Day 1. Writing to his son Michael who interrupted his studies at Oxford to enlist as an anti-aircraft gunner:
At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts.
Day 2. The dangers of the medieval courtly love tradition:
It began as an artificial courtly game, a way of enjoying love for its own sake without refer to (and indeed contrary to matrimony. Its centre was not God, but imaginary Deities, Love and the Lady….It inculcates exaggerated notions of “true love”, as a fire from without, a permanent exaltation, unrelated to age, childbearing, and plain life, and unrelated to will and purpose.
Day 3. Women and marriage:
If they have any delusion it is that they can “reform” men. They will take a rotter open-eyed, and even when the delusion of reforming him fails, go on loving him.
Day 4. The Lord’s Supper:
Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the blessed Sacrament…..[sic] There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.
Day 5. On being the father of a soldier:
You are my flesh and blood, and carry on the name. It is something to be the father of a good young soldier….The link between father and son is not only of the perishable flesh: it must have something of aeternitas about it. There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.
Day 6. Understanding World War II:
You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real evil.
Day 7. Mad at Hitler for ruining the “northern spirit”:
I have in this War a burning private grudge…against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler….Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light. Nowhere, incidentally, was it nobler than in England, nor more early sanctified and Christianized.