Culture and Society

Fr David Stewart SJ
Pope Francis said, in a powerful and outspoken intervention reported on Friday, that "The presence of God today is also called 'Rohingya'." This of course was the word that he had carefully avoided using while he was in Myanmar. This came in Bangladesh, to where he had next travelled. The report had it that he next said: "Maybe we can't do much for you, but your tragedy has a place in our hearts. For those who have hurt you, and above all the indifference of the world, I ask your forgiveness."...
Fr Holman with Fr Carlos in Golra Sharif
I spent the month of July this year in Pakistan, responding to a request from the Jesuits there for assistance with retreats for religious. I directed the Presentation sisters and some of the Jesuits, while another Jesuit directed the Sisters of Jesus and Mary and the Daughters of the Heart of Mary.For much of the time we were based in the northern hill town of Murree, 7000 feet above the cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, where the climate was cool in contrast to the oppressive summer heat...
Hands holding coins and a sapling.
I have a friend who is a professional fundraiser. Like professional politicians and professional journalists, professional fundraisers are commonly regarded by a cynical public as professional liars whose only contribution to society is to part the gullible from their money – a kind of Darwinian economic determinism. That is, of course, when they are not morally blackmailing overly generous little old ladies to the point of suicide. (Sadly, there are real such examples.)But my friend assures me...
A rugby scrum
        “...You have shown you can be faithful in small things. I will trust you with greater. Come and join in your master’s happiness.”I hope you are enjoying the rugby!I have just one experience of full international rugby – when I was very briefly the match doctor for the Guyanese national team. For any of you who aren’t familiar with rugby, it’s a fairly rough game – if you are American, think of American football, but without the helmets and padding...
As the UK prepares for the annual Bonfire Night celebrations, the BBC will be airing the final episode of its ‘explosive’ three-part drama, Gunpowder. As part of the main cast, the series has portrayed two English Jesuits: Frs John Gerard and Henry Garnet. The first episode saw them involved in a tense opening scene which set the tone for the series, and of the times, of an intense atmosphere of persecution and paranoia. Forced into priest holes at the house of a Catholic recusant by the...
Scarves laid out in memory of the 96 who died at Hillsborough
Last week, one of the gentlemen asked me why I didn’t preach about football any more and if this was in any way connected to Liverpool’s less than brilliant start to the season. That gentleman, of course, supports Manchester United!I said “no, of course not, I was merely waiting for the right occasion.”So, “Love your neighbour as yourself?!”Why your neighbour?Why not the people down the road?or some people in the next town?Or some other people a nice safe distance away..?Or the man in the moon?...
A hospital room
A long time ago in a land far, far away, I once worked in a very bad hospital. It had a very bad reputation and patients didn’t want to go there. The staff were always bickering, angry, rude to the patients. Many people came to work late; some came drunk; some didn’t come at all. As a result, the patients just did not get a good service. Equipment never worked. When you tried to call somebody to repair it, they weren’t there; or they couldn’t come; or they just wouldn’t do the work. The...
God speaks to a tech billionaire.
It was an interesting experience for me to go to the theatre and find an intelligent and non-cliched exploration of contemporary mystical experience. Christopher Shinn’s ‘Against’, playing at the Almeida Theatre in north London, is a fascinating and absorbing study of millennial confusion. Most engrossingly from an Ignatian perspective, a fundamental theme is what happens when someone powerful and influential feels that God is speaking to them in the midst of that confusion.  This is a...
Young man praying at Farm st church, london
Landings, the programme for returning Catholics whose UK base is here at Farm Street, is starting a new year, and also a new chapter.  First of all, our team would like to thank the parishioners of Farm Street sincerely for the opportunity to speak about the Programme at Masses two Sundays ago.  And for the very generous funds raised, which have now reached £2,417-51.  Very many thanks for your generosity and interest in the programme. But Landings is not about programmes,...
Total solar eclipse
As North America goes into a solar eclipse meltdown, gazing upwards at the heavens may prove to be a blessed relief from recent tensions and confrontations.  Ten years ago, NASA identified the small town of Hopkinsville as the ‘point of greatest eclipse’ during the first coast-to-coast eclipse in 100 years.  This rural Kentucky town will experience an unrivalled 2 minutes and 42 seconds of totality. Huge crowds of tourists, astronomers and religious groups are expected; hotel rooms...

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