Greetings, my fellow port swillers, and happy Fifth Day of Christmas!

One:  A snowy start to the day at Port Swiller Manor has now turned to a generally soggy meh.  I don’t know that I could prove it scientifically, but it always seems to me that bacon, eggs and coffee taste so much better on mornings such as these.  I know the gels think so, too.  Nearly pulled back a bloody stump when I tried to help myself to the hash browns.

Two:  It turns out that Mrs. R will be coming home today.  Indeed, she is already back in town and is out at lunch with an old college chum she hasn’t seen in years.  I am rapidly losing that sense of drifting uselessness that I get whenever she’s away.

Three:  Because we are still in the midst of the Christmas Feast, I went out this morning to renew the wreath that adorns the Port Swiller dining room table during the holidays.  (I find that I have to replace the fixin’s about every two weeks or so.  That means twice in Advent and once during Christmas itself.)  I have a simple brass cage with a round mirror in the bottom of it.  I also have a large fir tree and a holly hedge.  Culling trimmings from the latter and then inserting them into the former produces a most gratifying result, especially in years such as this one when the hollies are producing a lot of berries.   Mrs. R is regularly astonished by the results and invariably airs a long-standing joke regarding her suspicions about why I should be so good at this sort of thing.  (My reply, while humorous and pertinent, probably would get me busted by the P.C. police and is probably best not reproduced here.)

Four:  I have not commented  much here about the ins and outs of the big issues filling the nooz headlines these days:  “Gun control”, the Fisgul Ycliffe, the HHS mandate, Gloooooobal Waaaaaaarminggggg,  etc.   I don’t take any of the maneuverings and posturings seriously because I don’t believe that the debates have anything to do with good faith resolution of genuine problems.  Instead, this is all power politics of the most vindictive and irresponsible kind.   What will happen, I couldn’t exactly say, but it strikes me that the arrogance that seems to be building exponentially on one side has been shown very often in the past to be the precursor to spectacular, ruinous downfall.  Overreach is a real bitch.  Just sayin’.

BensonFive:  (Non-Catholic friends of the decanter may want to skip this one.)  I happen to be part of a small Facebook group devoted to rad-trad Catholicism and bacon.  The other day, the subject of Msgr.  Robert Hugh Benson came up.   Msgr. Benson was a son of the Archbishop of Canterbury and himself an Anglican cleric before swimming the Tiber.  Spurred by the mention of his name,  I nipped over to the devil’s website and, while poking around, came across Benson’s Confessions of a Convert.

I am always interested in these stories, especially from people who, like me, came out of teh Anglican Communion.  What especially struck me in this book was Msrg. Benson’s reflections on looking back from where he had come.  May I quote a bit?

I turned and looked again at the Church of England and there was an extraordinary change.  It was not that she had become unloveable.  I love her even now as one may love an unsatisfactory human friend.  She had a hundred virtues, a delicate speech, a romantic mind;  a pleasant aroma hung about her; she was infinitely pathetic and appealing; she had the advantage of dwelling in the shadowed twilight of her own vagueness, in glorious houses, even though not of her building; she had certain gracious ways, pretty modes of expression; her music and her language still seem to me extraordinarily beautiful;  and above all, she is the nursing mother of many of my best friends, and for over thirty years educated and nursed me, too, with indulgent kindness.  Indeed, I was not ungrateful for all this, but it had become entirely impossible for me ever to reverence  her again as the divine mistress of my soul.

It is true that she had fed me with the best food she had, and that Our Lord had accompanied those gifts with better gifts of His own; she had, indeed, pointed me to Him rather than to herself.  But all this did not make her my queen or even my mother; and, in fact, even in other matters she had failed me, through no fault of her own, but rather because of the misfortune of her own birth and nature.  When I had asked her questions that really concerned the very life I was leading under her protection, she had given me no answer.  She had told me only to lie still and love her, and that was not enough.  A soul cannot be eternally satisfied with kindness and a soothing murmur and the singing of hymns, and there is a liberty which is a more intolerable slavery than the heaviest of chains.  I did not want to go this way and that  at my own will:  I wanted to know the way in which God wished me to walk.  I did not want to be free to change my grasp on truth:  I needed rather a truth that itself should make me free.  I did not want broad ways of pleasantness, but the narrow Way that is Truth and Life.  And for all these things she was helpless.

Benson wrote these words almost exactly 100 years ago, and yet they are completely applicable today, and indeed quite nicely capture the same regrets, frustrations and realizations that I went through myself.   I have plenty of family and friends in TEC who would love for me to abandon this ridiculous Papist fancy and come back to the fold, but, as fond as I am of them and as appreciative of their good will,  in my nearly five years I have become so keenly aware of the difference between Holy Mother Church and church, that this would be utterly impossible.

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