I had some reservations about calling this album
'The Alchemist' even though I took the name from Fr Gerard's poem
'The Alchemist In The City'. I feared that, at first glance, the
work might be mistaken as 'new age'. However, I kept it as I wanted
to stake a claim on, or rather to re-claim, the word 'alchemy'.
I will explain why I consider it to be a valid title for a work
that I consider to be Catholic and fully orthodox.
"Art alone cannot produce a substantial form" wrote
the great Albert Magnus, forever quashing any thoughts that he
was a magician. Yet undoubtedly he was considered as such by some.
After all, did he not create a magic cup that had a purging and
curative effect on those who drunk only water or wine from it?
Yes, this is true, but we now know that the 'magic' was accomplished
by the clever device of incorporating antimony into the structure
of the cup.
Magnus contradicted Bede by saying that it was certainly possible,
even likely, that men and animals existed south of the equator.
He even predicted that animals living at the South Pole would
be white. Likewise his contemporary Bacon could confidently look
forward to a time when men would make machines that would take
them into the skies and under the sea.
Of course these men and all great men used neither sorcery nor
divination to achieve their results. Their only crime was that
they dared to think what had not been thought before. They were
also men of great faith and knew God, not as a remote mystery
but, as a loving presence who delighted to answer mans honest
and sincere enquiries.
The outer reaches of mans knowledge, the Ultima Thule of each
age, is always alchemical until properly understood. Thus Christ's
walking on the water is to us seen as something inexplicable,
yet in times to come it will be understood as something reasonable.
Science always lags behind the Holy Spirit, and the miracles of
the saints show not that they had entered another reality but
rather the culmination and fulfilling of this reality.
The secret that such men had found was not occult in nature,
it was simply that they had come to see that prayer is not a separate
discipline from thought and enquiry and work. I believe that those
who grasp this truth are capable of achieving great results in
whatever work they are called to. Results that will appear, if
not miraculous to their age, then at least startlingly new in