Spiritual Journeys

Fr Conor Harper SJ, Vice-Postulator for the Cause of John Sullivan SJ, last weekend preached at Farm Street Church to mark the anniversary of his death in 1933.  Bl John Sullivan was first received into the Church at Farm St in 1896 by Fr John Gavan SJ.Lent is the time of the year when Christians of all denominations observe a time of prayer and penance in preparation for the great feast of Easter when we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord.We are invited to reflect on the great...
Philip Harrison SJ in training on Wimbledon Common
Philip Harrison SJ is a member of the Jesuit Mission London Marathon team for 2018.  He describes his long relationship with running as he gets back into training.Long distance running was a grace that arrived unexpectedly in my late twenties on a cold winter’s morning in Stamford Hill, North London. I was studying philosophy at the time and trying to decide which ethical theory was the one by which I should live. Inspired, I grabbed my shoes (they were not even proper trainers), laced...
one beer later written on the cap of a bottle
It is not very often that a persons life is changed in a single day, even in a day of recollection. I have a friend called Chris, he tells me that between the ages of 16 and 22, he did absolutely nothing but play football, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and other drugs and chase girls, - mostly without success. Every night he came home drunk. After six years of this his mother was distraught. She simply could not cope any longer. She spoke to her parish priest. He wasn’t much help (and she wasn’t...
Sunset Credit Penny Hollick via Unsplash
Definition of afterglow1: a glow remaining where a light has disappeared2: a pleasant effect or feeling that lingers after something is done, experienced, or achievedWe all have experienced ‘the afterglow’ of a sunset when the sun has dipped below the horizon and the sky lights up in vivid colours.  Equally after a great experience, a wedding or a party we might bask in the afterglow of friendship and love.  If you are football fan like me, you might experience the afterglow of your...
Tower blocks credit Jakub Gorajek
Pope Francis’ prayer intention for February, entrusted to the people of God through his personal network of prayer, is expressed bluntly: “Say “No” to Corruption. That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption”.This is not the first time that Francis has been blunt about this matter; he has not been afraid to be outspoken on this “smog of corruption”, as he put it in a daily Mass homily last November. It is of sufficient concern for him to present...
Rosary beads a traditional form of prayer
Just about this time fifteen years ago, my old French teacher died – “Monsieur Sam”, of Wimbledon College.When we were boys of 13, religion really didn’t mean very much to us. We had not yet experienced in our own lives any real need for God. But Monsieur Sam, our new French teacher, insisted on starting our French course by teaching us the Rosary in French. We found out that it was the first thing he taught every class he took.And he explained to us very simply why he did that – it was because...
Photo: © Tonya Fitzpatrick, World Footprints. All Rights Reserved
This week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and it will be marked this Sunday by a pulpit swap, with Richard Fermer from the Grosvenor Chapel coming to the Church of the Immaculate conception to preach at the 11am Mass and myself going across the garden to preach at the Grosvenor Chapel.My first thoughts are to be grateful for what has been achieved.  We live in a part of London where there are reminders of a time when it was very different.  We are conscious of Tyburn and...
A sign pointing toward happily ever after - photo from Unsplash
Some years ago, I knew a young woman, a teacher, whose dearest wish in life was to be married and to have a large family. However, her first problem was that she couldn’t find a “good man”. Apparently there is a widespread shortage of “good” men. There are lots of men around, but apparently not many “good” men. But, eventually, when she was 32, she found a possible candidate. After only two years of courtship, agonised decision–making and huge telephone bills, they were married and settled down...
Jigsaw Credit Hans-Peter Gauster via Unsplash
I was fascinated to come across the work of the psychologist Paul Bloom recently. In his book Against Empathy –  The Case for Rational Compassion, he challenges the received wisdom about the importance of empathy.  The ability to empathise, “to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” is rightly valued. We also know that all sorts of pathologies come from a lack of empathy - psychopaths, sociopaths etc. When Donald Trump tweets negatively about a particular group or country, we are...
2016 Presidential campaign Wikimedia Commons
Some years ago, a young English trainee journalist was invited to have the experience of going on the campaign of an American presidential candidate. Like most trainee journalists, he had little respect for politicians (and not just American ones). He saw them as vain, boastful, proud men – and women, with few principles and even fewer scruples - sometimes corrupt, often complaisant, almost always deceitful. But he thought it would be good experience anyway, so he went. And, straightaway, his...

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