Culture and Society

A Child's Baptism on Flickr by Joe Green
'Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.'What does it mean to be “baptised in the Holy Spirit”?Well, if you ask a theologian, they’ll tell you that it is just simply what it is to be a Christian – to have one’s entire life imbued with the Holy Spirit not just in the next Life, but in this one – to have the Holy Spirit live...
Destroyed tanks in Azaz Syria
When the uprising began in Syria, there was great hope and fear. Syrians of all colours knew reform was vital, but that it would come at a heavy cost. Some were hopeful and encouraged the reform movement, others, more fearful, resisted it. There was extremism and moderation in both camps.We Jesuits have always wanted to be present at that universal middle ground Syrians long for; but finding it is no easy task. Syrian Jesuits do not represent themselves, but the work of a particular group, '...
Retire-toi Satan by James Tissot
Fr Gerry Gallen SJ, Chaplain to St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, gave the following homily for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). The reading was Matthew 16: 21-27.Poor Peter! Last week he was the rock on which the Church was to be built; this week he’s compared to the devil himself! But misunderstanding and being misunderstood is all part and parcel of the cost of discipleship.The word discipleship comes from discipline and discipline is never warmly welcomed! Peter is...
An image of an Ark
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you......”   Rudyard Kipling's famous poem provides a key to understanding the story of Noah and the Ark as much as any scriptural commentary.That story tells of a  time when the whole earth was flooded and one man, Noah, had the foresight to build a boat on which he had placed a male and female of every living species on earth so as to save them from extinction. Like other bible stories this...
Image of Doves with text: Seek His Kingdom First
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we ask for God’s kingdom to come, God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. But that can sound rather cold and impersonal. When we hear St Paul describing the effects of the Holy Spirit of God as love (charity), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, it sounds more encouraging. And St Paul adds elsewhere in his letters humility and forgiveness, everything that is excellent and honourable and worthy of...
Prison Bars
In the Gospels Jesus embraces the most broken of his society and encourages us to do likewise. It is from this motivation that for two days a week I work as a Catholic Chaplain to HMP Brixton, a prison in South London. Brixton Prison has for a long time been a remand prison but was recently re-categorised to a category C local prison. This allows us to build long-lasting relations with the prisoners as it ensures that they are around for a longer time compared to the regime in a remand prison....
Candles in sand image from flickr by caffeinehit
Lighting a candle is something shared and enjoyed across the world’s cultures. The candles on a birthday cake create an atmosphere which remains even when the candles are blown out.  When we light a candle in Church, its flame continues to flicker after we have gone, bearing witness to a relationship between God and ourselves.  The Easter Vigil with its Paschal candle proclaims the triumph of light over darkness, and we share in that proclamation as our small candles are kindled and...
Image of the first page of the Papal Bull
If someone hasn’t written yet on the subject  of email and spirituality, I am sure they will soon. Much is said about the social media of Facebook and twitter, while the old fashioned email hardly gets a mention. Yet for many people email can dominate, define and direct their day.  When I get up in the morning, do I switch on my computer immediately (assuming I have switched it off!), anxious to see if anyone has communicated with me while I have been asleep?  Depressed to find...
Pope Francis saying mass at the Gésu in Rome
The white smoke appeared surprisingly early.  The Jesuit community in Edinburgh gathered round the TV to hear the announcement.  We had enough Latin to understand great joy and wondered how it fitted with the first name George. When the unfamiliar surname Bergoglio was spoken, someone in the group said, he is one of us. Most Jesuits I know were shocked. This might seem strange, but we have always taken it for granted that there would never be a Jesuit Pope. The founder of the Jesuits...

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