Culture and Society

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...
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...

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