7 February 2003
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An unexpected blessing and a glorious re-dedication: that was the story of last week, even amid the terrible suffering caused by the coronavirus. But before that, there is some news closer to home. The Catholic Herald is becoming a monthly magazine. This is of course a major change, and it requires a full explanation – which you can find here, in my letter to subscribers. I would like to repeat what I say there, that I am eager to hear your thoughts – in particular, what you would like to see more of as we reshape the print magazine and the website. I’m confident that this new format is the way to best serve you, the reader.
And so to our new issue, in which Simon Caldwell and Fr Dominic Allain reflect on the re-dedication of England as Our Lady’s Dowry, while Fr Raymond De Souza says that the Urbi et Orbi blessing may prove to be the signature moment of this pontificate. Both events brought consolation amid the growing gloom. And they reminded us that the Church knows better than any institution how to deal with a pandemic. As John Morrill writes in this week’s cover story, we can take inspiration from the courage and faith of St Henry Morse and St John Southworth, who ministered to the plague-stricken in 1630s London – and who would both later die as martyrs. We might also look to St Charles Borromeo’s work in 16th-century Milan, which – as Thomas Chacko writes – combined social distancing with a heroic episcopal ministry. Then there is the Black Death, seen by one 14th-century poet as “God’s whistle”: Carl Schmidt explains why.
But we need to think about things other than the pandemic. What better time, then, to deepen our focus on the Gospels? For some thoroughly practical advice on that, see Fr James Jackson’s article about how to meditate. And perhaps you might consider a new hobby: Mary Kenny relates that one of her friends has taken up piano lessons, while another’s response is to start smoking “like there is no tomorrow.” I hope you enjoy the issue.