My main news is that I am going to the UK from January 9 to 31. I am in Philadelphia for the Feast of the Epiphany and for the following Sunday. Then that evening I fly to London, where I will be till Saturday the 15th. One of the things I am looking forward to is a Nikaean Club Dinner given by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Lambeth Palace to honour Cardinal Kasper on his retirement as head of the Vatican’s Christian Unity department. I got to know the Cardinal when I was Anglican Archdeacon of Italy, and look forward to meeting him again.
The Nikaean Club is a very English institution, founded to help the Archbishop of Canterbury entertain foreign dignitaries and ecumenical guests. It consists of a group of Anglican priests and laity willing and able to do this, and I have always found it to be a very fine body to belong to. We have, in the years I have been a member, entertained a host of Orthodox and Oriental Patriarchs and Archbishops, leaders of many of the worldwide Protestant Churches, and on one memorable occasion, the entire Bench of Swedish Bishops who, at the close of the meal, rose together and sang beautifully a Swedish hymn. (At least I think it was a hymn, but since it was in Swedish it could have been an ice-hockey chorus!).
On January 15th I will take the train to Edinburgh and spend the next two weeks in front of a log fire in West Linton, chez Grant, or else in the hallowed precincts of the New Club in Edinburgh (which is, of course the oldest club in Edinburgh, just as New College, Oxford is the oldest College there – this is just to confuse the French).
My birthday occurs while I am in Scotland, and an advance present means I will have a Kindle there, so that I do not have to lug two week’s worth of reading material with me. I am so technophobic that I am sure I won’t like it, but it will be awfully handy for travel.
Then (God willing, and “if we’re spared” as Scottish Calvinists delight to speculate) I will return to the City of Brotherly Love on January 31, just in time for Candlemass. As you see, my vacations happen in liturgical gaps.