Feasts and Saints

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...
Asparagus by Tiffany Gallen on Unsplash
Not everyone likes asparagus.I know this because Glen - an American friend of mine - has recently “come out” as an asparagus hater after many years of silent suffering, false smiles and little white lies. But his thin veneer of civilization finally cracked last Thanksgiving at the family dinner (for Brits, think Christmas dinner, but with more patriotism). And he still believes that it would never have happened if his dad hadn’t insisted on a second round of bourbon before dinner. (Again for...
Clouds - Credit Emilia Syldatk via Unsplash
 “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.”When I was growing up, there was a very great leader of the Catholic church in my country who seemed for me, as a small boy, to embody the entire personality of the Church. I won’t tell you his name but he was the then Cardinal Archbishop. In every way, he was a big man - 68 when I knew him. 6 foot 4 inches...
Fire with grilled fish Pixabay
Held within the octaveToday still stands within the Easter octave. The Church marks its most important feasts and seasons this way. I think it is also doing something more.There is something about the strange liturgical stretching of time, beyond the normal measuring and the pressure of the immediate, into the prolongation of the now: this moment, this place, which has no boundaries.Through we can count and distinguish the appearances, there is really only one resurrection moment. They are all...
The incredulity of Thomas who places his finger in the wound
Thomas’ problem is one that we all have – he speaks beyond his knowledge; he judges before he has considered; he condemns what he has not understood. Which of us has not done that?I once lived with a saintly old Jesuit. You’ll be pleased to know that we still have one or two. In his late eighties, he was incapable of even the simplest work, so he was sent to the noviceship to be a good influence on the wild young men that we once were.He loved it. He said that he was now too old to be anything...
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...
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern
For most of us it is not easy to believe in the resurrection of Jesus: most of us are not in the premier league of beloved disciples: most of the time utter joy and bliss and absolute faith in the God who loves us eternally and unconditionally aren’t obvious to us.  As Christians we see acts of faith around us, we receive compassion and support, we pray together for the people we love; but we also witness lack of faith, resentment or even hatred towards Christians, simply because of what...
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...
On Palm Sunday 2005, in one of his last public appearances, St John Paul II addressed his beloved young people gathered to celebrate International World Youth Day.  He invited them to respond to a very high calling, namely to joyfully embrace the cross.  “Dear young people”, he said, “I realize more and more how providential and prophetic it was that this very day, Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, should have become your Day. This feast possesses a special grace, that of joy...
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...

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