Culture and Society

Stephen Power SJ with brothers at the opening mass of GC36
There were several firsts at the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus last year. It was the first time tablets had been used by the members for electronic voting, making it a ‘paperless’ Congregation. GC36 elected the first Superior General from outside of Europe: Fr Arturo Sosa SJ from Venezuela. It was the first time that a General Congregation had been addressed by a Jesuit Pope. And it was also a first for six Jesuit Brothers, who took part in the General Congregation as ‘...
Schindler's Factory in Krakow Schindler's list installation from wikimedia commons
‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’Tertullian, writing in the 2nd Century, says that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church. And, since he was there at the time, I guess we have to take his word for it.One thing that only occurred to me recently: martyrs are only canonized with hindsight, and usually a few hundred years after the event. In any culture, at any time, there are only a very few people with the integrity and foresight to...
April’s First Intention of the Holy Father, commended to all of the people of God for their prayer, points towards a big topic that will become even more prominent next year, at the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops in Rome. The preliminary work has already begun towards that next gathering, which will deal with young people’s concerns and vocations. For this month, Pope Francis asks that our prayers be joined to his, that young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously...
A Bicycle in the grounds of a cloister or church
Why is it that we fast? Is hunger a good thing? Certainly starvation is one of the world’s great evils. Around the world, 200 million people will starve today. I come from a country where - not so very long ago - eight out of every 10 people were lost to probably the worst famine there has ever been - anywhere. Don’t try to tell us that hunger is a good thing!But a little hunger can be a good thing. A little hunger reminds us that human food and drink sustains us only for a short time. We need...
Pelican Shamrock Banner
With the celebration of St Patrick’s Day today, (17th March), our chosen object has an appropriately Irish theme. This processional banner comes from a collection with 7 others, which were used at Stonyhurst on the Feast of Corpus Christi.On that Feast Day, through much of the 19th and 20th centuries, the College would make a procession with the Blessed Sacrament from the Fronts to an altar placed in the gardens to celebrate Mass. Along with a guard-of-honour from the CCF and OTC, many banners...
There’s a question I always love to ask my homeless patients. Usually I try to sneak it in near the end of a consultation when they’re not really expecting it. And when they have to respond quite quickly without having too much of a chance to think about it. And it is this: “when did you like yourself the most?”And pretty much always, it makes them stop and think and not really want to answer.Because generally by the time people get to meet the homeless GP, they’re not feeling very good about...
Mass at Farrn St
SERIOUS CHALLENGES face not only Catholicism but all Christian Churches this Shrovetide as we prepare for our Lenten renewal of the Church.We are living in a rapidly changing world in uncertain times politically, socially and culturally. And Christians and their Churches are changing with it, so much so that many Christians are beginning to question whether their Churches are in serious danger of losing not only their way, but losing their true denominational identity. Many Christians are...
South Africa's Finance Minster, Pravin Gordhan. Flickr
By Russell Pollitt SJ, Director of the Jesuit Institute South AfricaFinance Minister Pravin Gordhan made a strong call to conversion in his 2017 Budget Speech. Quoting Pope Francis he said, “Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart”. He went on to say, “We need to radically transform our economy so that we have a more diversified economy, with more jobs and inclusivity in ownership and participation”....
Hands holding a light bulb lit up
Sometimes, you only find out what you have when you meet someone who hasn’t got it.When I was working in South America, I had a friend who worked in the electricity company. It’s called ‘Guyana Power and Light’. And he was in charge of what they called the “Rural Electrification Project”. That meant that it was his job to bring power and light to villages which had never had it before. He told me that it was the best job he had ever done.Wherever he went, he...
Refugees Welcome, printed on concrete
Welcome the needyCan our world ever have been more divided than now? In the lifetimes of many of us, we have not known such pain and division. An ugly licence to hate and to exclude is in the air; attitudes and behaviours that are usually, by common consent, unacceptable have been unleashed. It has shockingly become quite alright to despise the other, to embrace selfishness and to act with indifference towards those who come, in need, to us and to our countries. Narrow nationalist populism,...

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