Bob Styles SJ

Mary of Magdala in the garden
Easter is the Christian Pasch, or Passover, although the term itself has passed out of common use. The Holy Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Saturday night Easter Vigil form together a single celebration - the single historical event of what we understand as our human salvation or redemption from sin.The central and most significant event is Jesus’ willingness to give Himself up, in spite of the betrayal of His closest followers, to a rigged trial by His own people, to a...
Autumn colours Paul Varnum via Unsplash
Harvest thanksgiving celebrates not only God’s seasonal gifts of crops for sustenance, but has become a more general celebration of thanksgiving for his gift of all the rich and interdependent diversity of life on earth.  We are increasingly aware of the fragility of the intricate balance that sustains such a rich diversity of life on our unique planet, and of the fragility of the conditions required for any life to continue on earth at all.Early in the last century with so many boasts of...
Assumption of the Virgin Mary by Rubens Credit Wikimedia
‘DOGMA’ has become a ‘boo-word’. Rather than its original Christian definition ‘a tenet of Christian faith’ or ‘the authoritative teaching of the Church’ the Oxford dictionary now includes the meaning ‘an arrogant declaration of opinion.’ The negative definition may have evolved through widespread criticisms of the way the Catholic Church has historically enforced its teachings, especially via the CDF (the Congregation of the Faith), formerly called the Holy Office. This Congregation has until...
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...
Credit jtdirl at Wikipedia
‘SPIRITUALITY’ is a word that the famous and very popular Jewish Rabbi, writer, and broadcaster Lionel Blue said he felt uneasy and uncomfortable to use, “because,” he wrote “I am not a see-through spirit.” It is easy to see what he meant. Spirituality can seem to exclude all the normal human pleasures and practicalities of human life, and can be an unfortunately woolly word sometimes cloaking some pretty woolly religious thinking. Yet we need the word to cover the spiritual needs of human life...
Credit Sebastian Kanczok via Unsplash
‘Send forth your spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.’ These words  from Psalm 104 (103) characterise not only the ancient Jewish view of the Spirit of God annually renewing the face of the natural world with flowering plant life, but also a widespread belief in the activity of a divine Spirit in many religious cultures around the world, both ancient and modern. All life is thereby seen in them as a divine gift of God to a divine creation.The Hebrew...
Bob Styles SJ was born in 1936, and became a Catholic after his National Service 1955-7.  He made a pilgrimage through the shrines of France after his National Service, ending up in Lourdes in 1958, in whose baths he experienced his call to become a Jesuit.As a recent convert to Catholicism he received a special dispensation from the Jesuit Superior General to enter the noviciate in 1959.During his regency and after his training taught in Stonyhurst College where he spent fifteen years in...
Empty tomb Flickr photo sharing
The resurrection of Christ is the most fundamental belief of the Church and has been from the very beginning. St Paul’s comments on Christ’s resurrection are still valid: ‘If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. And those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, then we of all people are most to be pitied.’From the time of the confession of faith of Simon Peter and the disciples, the gathering of...
Credit Ng30950 via Unsplash
Who or what is God is a question that is perhaps implicitly as old as humanity itself, and is in one sense as unanswerable as the question ‘what is the real meaning of infinity?’ We are dealing with subjects that are objectively beyond human comprehension. However well we may be able to argue with another, arguments to prove the existence of God will not by themselves ever convince anybody sufficiently to seek God, because arguments are ultimately merely competitions. The only victory for God...
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...