Jospeh Shaw, the LMS Chairman, introduces Bishop Athanasius Schnieder. As always, the bishop spoke plainly and simply and yet with great effect. He was there for the whole day despite not having a moment to himself in between being photographed and signing copies of his excellent new book "Corpus Christi".
"Healing the heart of the life of the Church in our days requires a healing in the manner in which we treat the Eucharistic Jesus in the sacred host."
I was surprised that Bishop Schnieder remembered me from our last meeting in Rome. We discussed the coincidence that his episcopal ring bears the image of the Miraculous Medal - my parish being St Catherine Labouré!
The thought of trek up to London for the Conference with all the ensuing costs and difficulties of getting about the overcrowded city is not one I always relish (and indeed, having taken the train in order not to have to pay £90 to park the car for the day, I had a journey back on Virgin Trains that won't encourage me to risk it again!) However, one of the principal reasons I made the trek up was to catch up with Joseph Pearce, whose latest book, "Race with the Devil" charts his conversion from BNP activist to the Catholic Faith via the literary inspirations of Chesterton and Belloc. He's always interesting to listen to - enthusing or disagreeing over the great Catholic authors (And yes, we include Shakespeare among those!)
The last speaker of the day was well placed to make sure no one dozed off at the end of the afternoon. Fr Michael Mary, Superior of the Transalpine Redemptorists, gave a rousing talk in the traditional animated Redemptorist manner!
My favourite revelation of the day was the analogy of the tree and the cloud as images of the Faith. One of Chesterton's insights.
If the Faith is a tree, it makes no sense to lop off all the branches that have grown up over the years and to hack away at the trunk trying to look for the sapling it once was. That will only kill the tree. Such are those who would strip away the Faith and the liturgy to try to "get back" to some ancient "perfect" form. You can prune the tree but you can never make it a sapling again - no matter how lovely you thought the sapling was. In fact, the bigger the tree is and the farther away the branches are, the more surely do they need to be attached and connected. No matter how big the tree gets, the beautiful sapling is always there, at it's heart - but you can't recreate it.
The modernists tend to see the Faith and the liturgy as a cloud - always changing, formless, blown this way and that.