Friday Flotsam: Done With the Job, Men’s Conference, and Louis L’Amour

1. Today was my last day at the Job. Mostly a matter of putting things in order. It’s such a relief to be done at last.

2. What happens next is, of course, the big follow-up question, but I have time to worry about that. There are a few avenues I might pursue, but mostly I want to be able to take a minute or two and really think about how to proceed, instead of desperately grasping after whatever came my way as I had been doing. Whatever else happens, I mean to take it more methodically and with an eye to the long term.

3. As mentioned last week, this past weekend I was privileged to be able to travel down to Cincinnati for the National Men’s Conference. It was a good time overall; the speakers mostly ranged from charming to interesting, up until the point the Archduke of Austria came on and pretty much stole the whole show with a talk about his grandparents, Bl. Emperor Karl and Servant of God Empress Zita. In the process he provided a detailed and startling look at true Catholic Leadership and slipped in some matter-of-fact sword-thrusts at the insanity currently gripping the world. But unlike most other speakers I’ve heard, he didn’t deliver these with the bombastic emphasis that shows he means them to be applause lines; he dropped them almost in passing, as if to say that this is simply the truth, and there are no two ways about it. The result was multiple standing ovations over the course of his talk.

His elegance and graciousness on stage, along with the content of his talk, made me realize how starved we are for that kind of true Christian leadership. He was not the least stodgy or affected; he came across as perfectly natural, only as though, for him, to be refined was natural. I remember reading Dietriech Von Hildebrand describing a meeting with Empress Zita, and saying that she embodied the elegance and poise of old Austria. I never really had much reference for that, so unused are we to such things in this country in this age, but now I feel I have a better notion of it.

4. After his talk, I had the pleasure of being able to meet him; very briefly as the line was hurrying on to conclusion, only enough to offer my thanks and express what an honour it was to have him. He was very pleasant and very present, even for the brief exchange.

So, I have now gotten to shake the hand of a direct descendant of one of my go-to Saints. That’s probably not going to happen very often!

5. We left a little early, so I missed Jonathan Roumie (Jesus in The Chosen)’s talk, unfortunately. Had to get to evening Mass (I’d gotten lost on my way to the venue and missed most the opening Mass: Cincinnati may be the hardest city to navigate I have every tried to drive in). This was my first Byzantine Rite Mass, which was very interesting and very beautiful. I love the icons set up before the Altar, and the long sung responses, and the frequent incensing. It is gloriously reverent, and makes me miss the Latin Mass all the more. I like the Byzantine Rite, but…well, I am a Latin of the West, and I’d like my own rite to be what I know it could be and has been.

6. On the way to and from Cincinnati I listened to Louis L’Amour’s Borden Chantry: my second time with it, though my first since reading other works of his. I was delighted to discover that the protagonist of The Daybreakers – my most recent L’Amour offering – shows up in a cameo, revealing something I hadn’t realized: that Mr. L’Amour in fact created something like an entire interconnected Western universe, with characters and families crossing paths in their own stories and those of others.

The book itself is excellent, by the way; a strong whodunit Western-style, where an unassuming marshal has to track down a cold-blooded killer, despite feeling himself way out of his depths. The mystery’s pretty good, with reasonable clues laid along the way, and of course it’s got that great L’Amour atmosphere of strong, honourable men trying to make their way in a tough world. Even the hired gun is shown to have a degree of honour that the hero recognizes and respects.

7. Palm Sunday and Holy Week are now upon us. Let us go forth to accompany the Lord in His Passion and Resurrection.

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