Culture and Society

A man lights a cigarette in the dark
I have a very good friend who is a drug addict. He hasn’t used any “stuff” for about four years now, but he still calls himself a drug addict. And his story is the usual one.At about age 12 he started smoking cigarettes, not because he really liked them, but because it was fashionable, all his friends were doing it and also because it was a really good way of annoying his parents. About age 15, he began using a little marijuana because that made him feel good and because there...
A Child's Baptism on Flickr by Joe Green
Baptism  means being where Jesus is.  It places us in the place of Jesus.  The New Testament makes it clear that one of the most important ways in which this is expressed is through the fact that we pray the prayer of Jesus as we stand in the place of Jesus.  That is, in the Holy Spirit we say, ‘Abba, Father’. Yet where Jesus is, is in itself a many-layered notion.  Jesus is in the presence of God the Father and so when we stand where Jesus is we too...
The communal sharing of food
There used to be a tradition in Ireland that at a christening the godparents would give the newly baptised infant a little silver christening cup. But when my mother was asked to be godmother to my cousin Catherine, she didn’t have the money to get it immediately.But eventually it was bought.And then it had to be engraved.And then it had to be polished.And then I think if we are honest, it got a little bit forgotten about, gathering dust on a high shelf.Then my family moved to another...
Quote by Muhammad Ali
“People from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” [Luke 13.29]When I was at College, I had a friend Peter who is a Catholic and he shared a house with a Muslim called Abdul. They were both very religious people, each in his own way but, despite their differences, they got on very well. And it wasn’t until they had been staying together about six weeks that they had a really big argument about religion. Neither...
Credit Matt Lee via Unsplash
This month, Pope Francis has asked us to join him in a prayer for, and about, sports – that sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world. Do we ever think about sports as a topic for our prayer? Maybe, only when our favourite team is about to participate in a big match or prestigious tournament! Maybe the only time we ever might link our prayer and whatever sport we follow, or play, is at that moment, and it’s...
Boat in a storm by Jean-Pierre Brungs
Prayer is an important part of life for many of the residents of the detention centre that Fr Harry Elias visits. He shares one reflection which offers them solace and hope.I am ever amazed at the strong faith I find in the detainees that I visit, at least in those with whom I speak and those who come to church. A great number of them are Pentecostals from Africa and often their sole reading is the bible. I am thankful for this common ground between us, as I can capture their attention quite...
Community of hands outreaching
“It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.”Gospels mean many things to different people, but what I think Jesus means in this Sunday's Gospel () is that all of us – each and every one of us - have a part to play in building God’s Kingdom. And it is not to be taken from us. So, when I read this passage I think of something that happened to me in school that made me think more deeply about fairness and justice, about what it is to be a...
Polling Station by Elliott Stallion on unsplash.com
About 20 years ago, there was a terrible famine in East Africa. I’m sure that anyone over 30 will remember it. When television pictures were shown around the world of thousands of sick and starving men, women and children crowded into refugee camps, there was a global public outcry that, in this day and age, the rest of the world could permit over a million people to starve to death. Many people said: “somebody should do something.” A very few said: “I must do something...
Photo by João Silas on unsplash
I wonder if you have been enjoying the football.I happen to know a former professional footballer, now sadly fallen on harder times. He often likes to say that the worst player is better than the best commentator. And he tells a story of a footballer waiting to take the first penalty of a penalty shoot-out in a cup final. The player is visibly exhausted after full time and extra time and obviously nervous as he approaches the ball.High up in the gantry, the commentator remarks, “I wouldn...
Statue by Kathe Kollwitz: parents in mourning
“God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself,not holding people’s faults against them,and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.”2 Corinthians 5:19A century ago Europe was in the middle of one of the bloodiest wars in its history, with a line of trenches that ran from the English Channel to the border of Switzerland: that line was the ‘Western Front’ that marked out the edges of a conflict that scythed also across the northern, southern...

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