Culture and Society

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...
Pope Francis blesses a man in St Peter's square
I wonder if anyone here remembers Philip (“Doc”) Loretz. He was the first Jesuit doctor in the British Province. Up to the age of 55, he was a GP in the South of England – happily married with children and a successful practice. But, when he was 55, very suddenly and tragically, his wife died. Suddenly he was alone – all the children had left home. And he was bereft – like a boat cut from its moorings and tossed without power or steering into the current of life. And somewhere among all the...
Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the elder
For Catholics in general, and for Jesuits in particular, Martin Luther used to be seen as simply an enemy, a benighted schismatic. Juan de Polanco, Ignatius’ secretary, saw Ignatius’ conversion at Loyola in 1521 as God’s ‘antidote’, countering the poison of what Martin Luther’s 1517 declaration of war ‘on the apostolic Holy See and the Catholic religion’.However, centenaries have a way of provoking reassessments. Jubilee celebrations commemorate the past, but they also make us think about what...
Grenfell Tower Fire
Too much suffering has been witnessed by too many people recently for anyone to feel able to speak  of God’s love with much confidence. After many acts of inhuman terrorism, we recently witnessed the scenes of people being burned alive, in a tower that they had known as their homes, crying with terror from windows, or leaving heart-rending messages to loved ones. This black tower of dead families now stands as a fearful monument in the heart of London, a witness of dreadful judgement...
Canoe pilgrims in training Credit Canadian Jesuits
René de los Reyes SJ, a British Jesuit currently studying philosophy at Regis College in Toronto,  reflects on his participation in the Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage.  The 1500 mile, 28 day pilgrimage is an initiative of the Jesuits in Canada to promote a deeper intercultural dialogue and understanding during the year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation.A canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness is an adventure of a lifetime. The collective goal of the paddlers is...
Young girl with tear running down her face
“I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.”I have a friend – a good and holy Jesuit who is also a world-renowned Biblical expert. I’ll call him Fr John Smith. And his particular expertise is in Biblical languages – he is supposed to know many of the languages which existed in Palestine in Old Testament times, which is not bad at his current age of 92!But, to tell you the truth, he is also an...
Credit Josh Applegate via Unsplash
July is the height of summer for most of us in the northern hemisphere; schools and colleges complete their syllabi for the year and, for the minority of us who can afford it, holidays and August beckon. So many of us have no chance of a holiday, either in the sense of going away somewhere different or in the sense of respite from a lived reality marked by suffering, by poverty or by violence. Sometimes, too, we’re tempted to take a holiday from our lived faith, from the obligations that we...
A rifle, from unsplash by Thomas Tucker
The Monthly Intentions of the Holy Father are our way of sharing his concerns and taking these into our own hearts and prayer. Sometimes these concerns can be uncomfortable, even challenging. That is because they must be about real-life issues and these can often be complex and awkward. Our Christian faith is no better than superstition if we restrict it to safe topics or only with a restricted range of concerns, deemed appropriate. This month’s First Intention of the Holy Father is one such –...

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