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By Aidan Nichols O.P.

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November 23, 1963 There will be another solemn requiem Mass today, this time for the President. When I came in from the woods yesterday, Brother Aidan met me at the door of the novitiate and told me the president had been shot and died, in Texas, an hour and a half before. At first I did not believe it. But there was a notice on the board, and later I saw Father Abbot. Leo Gannon on the phone told him, while I was there, that the gun and three empty cartridges had been found in a building overlooking the route Kennedy traveled.

November 16, 1963 Yesterday, feast of the Dedication of the Church. Father Charles English, from Georgia (Conyers monastery) and formerly of Catholic Worker, spoke in chapter, warmly, and then had a heart attack afterwards. He is in Bardstown hospital. First copy of Emblems of a Season of Fury10 was handed to me by Brother Simon [Patrick Hart] just before High Mass. Today, a solemn requiem mass for Dom Gabriel. [Jean] Cocteau, dead. Did I already say this? Moved by a picture of a party, in 1930’s or early 40’s–Cocteau, Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, champagne, smiles, 1939 hairdos–a kind of gaiety that doesn’t seem to exist any more.

A legendary America that sometimes comes back to enchant me though it no longer exists. To accept my life in this context. Not to try to force Louisville into some arbitrary meaning or pattern. It is just that I am now in Louisville and last night I was under those trees, and I do not have to make sense out of it, still less to force it to “make sense,” which would in fact be to insist on an illusion. Two lighted planes, rising from Standiford Field [Louisville airport], came up low over the hospital and swung into the west.

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Byzantine Gospel Maximus the Confessor in Modern Scholarship by Aidan Nichols O.P.

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