...when one looks ahead at the Autumn and winter activities in Parliament. Are we going to get grim new laws which will redefine marriage and force sane men and women to pretend that two people of the same sex can marry one another? Will legislation - or a court's interpretation of it - threaten Catholic schools so that teachers will feel they may not teach that marriage can only be between a man and a woman? Will there be attempts to sue Christian people for upholding human and Christian truths?
I get irritated when Catholics say gleefully that "a time of persecution is coming, and it will probably do us a lot of good!" It may well be coming - although "persecution" will be too strong a word initially and it will all be fairly muddled and mild and may not seem very dramatic at first - but it will not be fun and it will not, in the lifetime of most of us, apparently do us much good. Under strong legal pressures, many succumb. In Eastern Europe, during the ghastly years of Comunism - when there was real persecution - many decent people fell silent, coped as best they could, kept their religious beliefs to themselves, tried not to endanger their children, and were not outstandingly brave. Things were different in Poland, with heroic and holy leadership from great men, one of whom became Pope, one of the greatest Popes in history. But elsewhere things were bleak, and when freedom finally came, the Church was weak and many people were confused and ignorant.
There are going to be tough times ahead. Don't gloat about it: we are going to need courage and faith, prayer, humility and good humour in adversity. Those who make the most noise ("We are prepared to write the Creed in our blood!" or whatever) are not usually those who are bravest when the time comes.
Years ago, when I read Solzenhitsyn's Gulag Archipelago I remember thinking that I would never take my freedom and my everyday London suburban life - family, friends, meals, a home, lovely Autumn walks, cups of tea - for granted. I would always be glad and grateful, and do whatever paltry things I could to alleviate suffering elsewhere.
I'm still not taking freedom for granted, and now when I look ahead I ponder things almost unimaginable 30 years ago.