For a little context, I had not written to Ray for some time, and I had returned to France after leaving the Anglican Catholic Church under Bishop Hamlett. I had returned to France and was staying with Fr Jacques Pecha at the Presbytery of Bouloire prior to my stay at Triors Abbey. In this letter, Ray gives some context to his notes about medieval parish life. I did not keep copies of my own letters to him, which I assume by now to be lost.
I appreciate his dry humour when commenting on my work with organs and his pun between the musical instrument and an organ of the human body.
* * *
Dec. 8th, ‘96
I follow up the card I sent you some months ago in hasty reply to your note asking me for something to publish.
I have this address in Newcastle-under-Lyme: but Robert S. says that he had heard a rumour, at third hand, that you had returned to France, though perhaps only for a visit. Accordingly, I intend to address this letter to your family home, the address of which, in your autograph, I find in a note book.
I had heard that, at Newcastle-under-Lyme, you had set up a workshop for the repair of organs. (What about a new kidney for a man I know?!) Anyway I hope that all goes well and would be pleased to hear from you.
From Dec ’95 until Oct ’96, I had an enormously enjoyable part-time job running, in company with two others, the library of the Union Society. One of the other two, whom I had helped to promote, was offered and accepted the full-time job. His first act was to secure a part-time job for his “bird”! This he did by getting rid of me. I had taken him for a good-humoured friend. Now I know how the Kremlin worked.
I guess that the occasion of your wanting to publish something has now gone. Anyway, I enclose some rough ideas on two topics. I present them only as history. “Parish Worship” I began when you asked me to do something for “Altar”. Last April I used the matter for an “ex tempore” lecture to the University’s Medieval Church History Post-Graduate Seminar. About that time, Robert asked me for matter which he could publish in booklet form. I think he had in mind a “St Alban’s Press” or some such. But that, he did not pursue.
Journals, movements, even churches, come and go at breakneck speed. (Remember B.O.C. [British Orthodox Church] formed at this Council of lewis in ’91? B.O.C. lasted only for a few weeks – and it had the advantage of: (i) the support of most of the “non-ethnic Orthodox” notables and (ii) “probably Rome acceptable valid Episcopal orders”. B.O.C. was a most extraordinary episode.)
In September I spent six days in Manchester. I obtained lodgings in a men’s hall of residence suggested by the Univ. of Manchester. As there were several undergraduates in residence, there was a pleasant sociable atmosphere. On the second day I discovered that I was in a Catholic institution. On the morning of my departure, I accidentally opened a wrong door. It revealed a well appointed traditional style chapel. As I was about to leave a young man said “I’m about to drive into the centre. Would you like a lift?” “Thank you. Yes”. Then, struck by a sudden thought, ‘Is this a house of Opus Dei?” R. “Yes, it is. I’m late. Please wait a moment while I get my car”.
Have they been told that the Penal Laws no longer apply? Do I really look like a pursuivant? I wonder. Each day I was away from the house between breakfast and dinner.
Why so furtive? I continue to wonder. The general good humour in all else was, I am quite sure, not contrived. It was exactly what I would expect from any similar group of educated young men.
I am physically well. I spend most of the day in libraries or sitting in a chair with a very active speculative mind about its affairs. Robert Stephen Mundi is formally in residence, but usually away in London. I spend far too much time abed – not asleep, but thinking.
Please greet me to Michael Wright and such others who know me as I suppose that you are in contact with them.
All the very best,