The true roots of Lent lie in Lancaster. We remember the trials of Deacon Donnelly in the wilderness, where he was sorely tempted by a heartless bishop. Hang on, that can't be right. Let's start again.
A new start. It is a year now since the deacon entered into a voluntary period of prayer and reflection on my orders, and many people are wondering how long his exile - which we described as a voluntary pause - will last.
"You will be my witnesses... unless Michael Campbell says otherwise.
My friend Eccles has kindly provided me with the "Eccles scale" by which you can judge the personality of a bishop by the length of the sentence he imposes on his clergy when other bishops are leaning on him to do something.
One week's pause. "A week is a long time in religion", as the saying goes - think of Holy Week. A kindly sympathetic bishop could ask his deacon to take a week off, and then resume his defence of the faith.
Forty days and forty nights. Lent is a time for sacrifice and reflection. I myself will be visiting the poor: some nuns have invited me round for tea and cakes, and we all know that they have a vow of poverty! Also, they make exceedingly good cakes! After forty days of meditation, a wise bishop would be ready to join his deacon in defending Catholic doctrine, and pfui! to the Magic Circle.
Visiting the poor!
Three months. After silencing his deacon for three months, a bishop needs to get him blogging again, or he (the bishop) will be regarded as a cruel taskmaster.
One year. This is getting beyond a joke. In the eyes of many the bishop is no longer a "cruel taskmaster" but a a "hard-hearted dictator".
Seven years. By then I will have retired to somewhere comfortable, preferably with lots of tea and cakes. The new bishop - unless it is someone bizarre like Timothy Radcliffe - will be only too pleased to see what Deacon Nick has to say.
Forty years. On my 112th birthday I shall make every effort to see that Deacon Donnelly's Protect the Pope blog is up and running again. Trust me, I'm a bishop.
Cardinal Burke is in town!
It has been reported that Cardinal Burke is in the Liverpool area, and I expect that he will want to make a pilgrimage to Lancaster, in order to visit a truly holy man (me). Ray Burke has said that priests should not sue bloggers, and I am fully in agreement with this. In my view, they should report the bloggers to their bishops for silencing, excommunication, and possibly chastising with a rope of knotted cords. It is probable that Cardinal Burke will wish to discuss this with me, so I look forward to seeing you, your Eminence. Change trains at Preston.
This sign should help you find me, Cardinal.
Some spiritual nourishment. The prophet Nathan came to King David, saying "There was a rich powerful man, who
wrote a 'Bishop's blog' with a vast readership which was sometimes almost in double figures.
Then there was a poor man who wrote a humble blog that had only a few thousand hits per day.
The time came when a sacrifice was demanded, so the rich powerful man took the poor man's blog and destroyed it."
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!"
Then Nathan said to David, "Thou art the man!"
Nathan confronts David. Makes you think,eh?
And finally. Don't think I haven't noticed that Deacon Donnelly has been writing a nasty personal attack on Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Baldisseri in the Irish paper Catholic Voice. That's not going to please my friend Vincent Nichols, I can tell you! The deacon attempts to confuse the issue by using words like "paratheke" (who does he think he is, Fr John Hunwicke?) but it's a blog in all but name. Will nobody rid me of this turbulent deacon?
The Campbell family. Spot the bishop!
Postscript. Cardinal Burke came to tea, but he was very cross with me!
But Cardinal, it was a purely voluntary suspension...