Yesterday I was speaking with another priest in Leeds and we suddenly and coincidentally spoke about someone who was obviously in both our minds - the historian and sociologist Christopher Dawson. Now Dawson was a Yorkshireman and a convert Catholic who is buried in the exquisite village of Burnsall in the Yorkshire Dales; he died in 1970. A couple of years ago I was up there in the winter and went to visit his grave and took this photo.
I had come across some of Dawson's books in the nineties and was absolutely amazed by what I found. A social and historical understanding of civilisation from a genuine Catholic perspective. Dawson had been part of the "Sword of the Spirit" movement in the 40s and 50s, a movement to which Pius XII had given his blessing. This group of people had come together during the Second World War in order to consider the rebuilding of European civilisation upon the basis of Christian orthodoxy after the war had ended. I remember hearing how my grandfather had taken part in "Sword of the Spirit" meetings at St Anne's Cathedral, Leeds in the late 40s.
Well, yesterday my colleague was full of insight that Dawson will be rediscovered in a few decades time. I should like him to be rediscovered rather sooner; for too long have we allowed ourselves to be swept along by the post-war syndrome of secularism with its superficial and ephemeral goals. In fact, we need real vision for the building of our culture and not too long ago there was a Catholic movement of significant thinkers who were already pointing the way.