Dear friends and family,

Here in Ontario we've been shoveling a lot of snow during the past couple of weeks, storm after storm after storm. Friends in Australia and New Zealand are worrying about sunburn and great white sharks when they go swimming. Elsewhere, the world also remains as it will be until the return of the Lord in glory....damaged but not destroyed. Whenever I get those old snow-shoveling back pains and have to put on my back brace in order to clear the driveway, sometimes I'm tempted to resent (just a little) people who live in Florida. Then I remember that they must contend with malarial mosquitoes, alligators, poisonous snakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, crime, and golf tournaments.

How easy it is to forget that this world is not our home. A beautiful place, an awesome place, a place to fall in love with, even though it sometimes kills you —and will kill us all in the end. So again and again it's a matter of lifting my eyes over those snowbanks, as you lift your eyes above the incoming sea waves, or above the madness of urban shopping malls or above any other tyranny of the immediate. Let us work at keeping our eyes on the true horizon. Do the duty of the moment, love wherever you are, and whomever you are with, but keep looking up.

In my previous newsletter I mentioned that I had traveled through four European countries in September and October, promoting translations of my books. In Croatia, my hosts in the city of Metkovic have posted a video online of one of my talks, which introduces my novels Otok Svijeta (Island of the World) an also Teofil (Theophilos) to Croatian readers. If you're interested in seeing it (and the translation process sentence by sentence) the hour is broken into 10-minute segments on You tube. The link is:


Because a large number of subscribers to my newsletter have e-address in Italy, or Italian names, I would like to draw the attention of those of you who speak or read Italian to an extraordinary series of articles by Dr. Edoardo Rialti in the newspaper Il Foglio. Rialti has translated some of my novels into Italian, and also some of my essays. He is a very gifted writer and thinker, a professor of Literature, and a widely-sought-after public speaker. He has translated Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Thomas Howard for Italian readers, and is presently making the great G. K. Chesterton better known. His series of articles on Chesterton has been running for the past several weeks. Some of his older articles can be found on the journal's website (http://www.ilfoglio.it). The site is something of a maze and not everything by Rialti is posted. However, if you live in an Italian city you can find Il Foglio at all news stands.

From another writer, here's a powerful quote for our reflection:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
—President Abraham Lincoln, March 30, 1863, Proclamation Appointing a National Day of Fasting

And this, a little more than a century later:

“ ... in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the Twentieth century’s moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the Nineteenth Century."
—Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "A World Split Apart" (A paper presented at Harvard University, June 8, 1978).


"We are losing the basic memory of mankind." —Pope Benedict XVI

Things to ponder in the falling snow, as we wait for light.

Grace and peace be with you in Jesus the Saviour of Mankind,
He who was, who is, and who is to come.


Michael O'Brien
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