My daughters and I made a trek up to Rochester, NY for the regional Chesterton Conference, and it did not disappoint. The Rochester NY Chesterton Society conference on the history of the Church in England was such a joy-filled and informative meeting.
The talk by Ted Janiszewski, of St. Irenaeus Ministries was absolutely inspiring. Ted discussed the Venerable Bede, especially his Ecclesiastical History of the Church in England. Wow! My copy is on the way, and I can’t wait to dive in. Scholars have criticized Bede, saying his depiction of a mass migration of Angles and Saxons was unrealistic and improbable. As Ted pointed out in his talk, a recent study published in the journal Nature, lends credence to the traditional view put forth by Bede, and gives us even more reason to study his work, and ignore the nay-sayers.
Fr. Peter Mottola gave a great talk on the history of hymns in the English tradition. We read several in Middle English, and even heard a rendition of one by Kurt Griffen. The English have had a longtime devotion to the Blessed Mother, and it was beautiful to see their love for her in hymns and to hear some ancient, sentimental love songs to God and his mother.
Joseph Pearce, whose book Faith of our Fathers inspired the title and theme of the conference, gave a wonderful talk on the history of England, using his book as an outline. By understanding the past, we make it possible to figure out where we are going. This history of England is a valuable tool to that end. It is always a delight to hear Joseph speak, and this talk was no exception. He is such a gift to the Church, and can be supported by joining his Inner Sanctum. A good investment, indeed.
Dale Ahlquist, President of the Society of G.K. Chesterton, rounded out the talks with a discussion of the martyrs of England, especially St. Thomas More. Drawing on the essays of G.K. Chesterton and his own visits to England, Dale gave a humorous and poignant speech which sparked a desire to learn more about these saints who preserved the Faith in the English speaking world.
Even more than the talks – the Chestertonians were a true delight! Friends new and old brought a smile to my face, and joy to my heart. We need one another, and there is absolutely no substitute for an in person meeting. It was a particular joy to see so many Domestic Empresses who have embraced their role and the power and responsibility that come with it.
If you ever have a chance to go to a regional or national Chesterton Conference, I strongly recommend it. These gatherings give us the opportunity to fellowship with one another, grow in our faith, and support one another along our journey.