Culture and Society

Aloysius de Gonzaga as a boy
AMDGThe patron saint of young people, and of Jesuit scholastics (students for the priesthood), we celebrate the life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga SJ in a special way this year with a Jubilee Year to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth. Why is his life worth celebrating?Aloysius, or Luigi, gave up a privileged background to enter the Society of Jesus. While studying for the priesthood, he died while caring for plague victims on the streets of Rome. Rather than flee the daunting realities of his...
Westminster, the river Thames and Westminster bridge
The Windrush scandal signifies more than Ministerial incompetence: it has revealed the shocking inhumanity of our immigration policy.  How can we talk about British values when we deliberately design policies that negate the values of hospitality, compassion, solidarity and justice?  So far so obvious for some, so contentious for others.But where are the ethical principles going to come from that might guide us towards putting things right?  The Christian tradition might be a...
 A young woman gazes upwards. A cross is behind her.
“Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” [John 20.9]“So, what exactly is the point of the ‘bodily resurrection’?”I was once asked this question in a pub by a journalist. And, as always, when I find myself talking in a social environment with a journalist, I hear somewhere off in the background the words of the Police caution… “but anything you do say may be taken down and used in evidence…”But drink had been taken, so I did...
Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash
When I was a teenager, I grew up in Wimbledon – a village in South London that is famous for only one thing – every June there is a tennis tournament that attracts players and spectators from all over the world. It’s supposed to be the oldest tennis tournament in the world – I’m not absolutely sure if that’s true. But it is certainly the most prestigious.And I remember particularly the first day I went there. It used to be that if you lived locally, you could walk up in the evenings, when most...
God made me and God doesn't make junk - Anonymous
“…they discussed among themselves what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.”One of my patients has a favourite T-shirt which he often wears to consultations with me. In block red capitals (presumably he has concerns about my eyesight) it says, “Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.”Having lived with quite a few saints in my time, I can heartily attest to the former. But, just in case I have to live with them again, the story I am going to tell you is about the latter….Now, you may...
one beer later written on the cap of a bottle
It is not very often that a persons life is changed in a single day, even in a day of recollection. I have a friend called Chris, he tells me that between the ages of 16 and 22, he did absolutely nothing but play football, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and other drugs and chase girls, - mostly without success. Every night he came home drunk. After six years of this his mother was distraught. She simply could not cope any longer. She spoke to her parish priest. He wasn’t much help (and she wasn’t...
Photo: © Tonya Fitzpatrick, World Footprints. All Rights Reserved
This week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and it will be marked this Sunday by a pulpit swap, with Richard Fermer from the Grosvenor Chapel coming to the Church of the Immaculate conception to preach at the 11am Mass and myself going across the garden to preach at the Grosvenor Chapel.My first thoughts are to be grateful for what has been achieved.  We live in a part of London where there are reminders of a time when it was very different.  We are conscious of Tyburn and...
2016 Presidential campaign Wikimedia Commons
Some years ago, a young English trainee journalist was invited to have the experience of going on the campaign of an American presidential candidate. Like most trainee journalists, he had little respect for politicians (and not just American ones). He saw them as vain, boastful, proud men – and women, with few principles and even fewer scruples - sometimes corrupt, often complaisant, almost always deceitful. But he thought it would be good experience anyway, so he went. And, straightaway, his...
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...

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