Sunday, March 29, 2009

An inner light?

During the latter weeks of the winter I have been perusing an account of myself written by a Mr Osbert Burdett and published quite recently, in 1927, by the publishers Constable.

Mr Burdett, I presume, is a member of the Burdett family, which, it should be noted, moved in an opposite political trajectory to myself, moving from the cause of reform to that of reaction.

Mr Burdett's proposition is that I lacked an "inner light". To this he attributes my initial decision not to seek ordination. He credits me with being a practical and effective politician but appears to attribute my political journey to the absence of this inner light rather than to the guidance of such a light. The imputation is that I preferred to spend time in theological discourse rather than in contemplation and prayer, that I prefered to speak rather than to reflect.

This is a proposition that I must refute in its entirety. It misapprehends the fortune of my circumstances, the lengthy walks that allowed me to contemplate the Divine creation and the righteousness of particular actions; Mr Burdett is also unaware of the benefits of regular Observance and the contemplation of the Liturgy on a weekly, nay even daily, basis.

I do not claim like St Joan or Samuel to have enjoyed an inner voice, to have been certain of my path from the beginning. Indeed that might excuse the meandering trajectory and the occasional diversion in my life. However I do claim that the Light of the Gospel convicted me at an early age of the need to do what is good, to improve the lot of my fellow mankind and that this conviction never departed me. It was apparent that some of my early beliefs were misconceived, others were in need of revision in the light of experience; in other respects I never wavered, and indeed it was not infrequent for Her Majesty to tease me playfully for being "stiff and unbending".


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