Enjoying the experience of directing a long retreat, 30-days of silence, following the Spiritual Exercises, in North Wales. I am with 6 other ‘youngish’ Jesuits of my generation, accompanying people through the 4 weeks.
We may say that the gospels, especially Mark, are aware of a great variety of forms of participation in Jesus’ cause. There were the Twelve. There was a broader circle of disciples. There were those who participated in Jesus’ life. There were localized, resident adherents who made their houses available. There were people who helped in particular situations, if only by offering a cup of water. But we must be careful in how we understand this. It does not mean that there are tiers within discipleship, where some are called to a higher holiness and others to a lower one, as if the full gospel applies only to some. When we realize that we are all walking with Christ, albeit at different speeds and occasionally wandering off the path, could it be that we already have enough unity to form one Church - not perfect, but fit for purpose.
It’s that time of year. Distant voices call for your attention. Recently it was Glastonbury, but my tent stayed in the cupboard and I stayed home. Last weekend it was Scotland’s own T in the park, and the adventurous crowds are heading off to Kinross.
Pope Francis has brought a breath of fresh air into the Church. There had been a disturbing trend for the embrace of our churches to become less inclusive. We seemed to be requiring a purity and exclusivity not demanded by Jesus in the Gospels.
I used to have an aunt who wasn't an aunt but a family friend. The only problem with Proxy-Aunt was that no-one could remember whose friend she was or indeed which branch of the family she had previously befriended.
All life has powerful inner pressures and is not easily thwarted. It shows in the example of plants that push relentlessly and blindly towards their own ends, irrespective of resistance. We naturally tend to want a deeper relationship with God, and this most often happens not in Church, but in our private prayers - our silent gratitude and silent tears.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines prayer as ‘raising the mind and heart to God’. For centuries, the Church realised that the arts were one of the best ways of achieving this. Any list of the greatest artistic achievements of all time will be dominated by religio