Spiritual Journeys

Credit: Unsplash
If we feel drawn, this June, to praying with Pope Francis for the concerns that lie in his heart, we can definitely make our prayer richer and more consoling if we unite them to Christ’s heart, too.This month has traditionally been devoted to the heart of Christ, the Sacred Heart, and it’s at the beginning of the month, when the church – you and I – mark the feast-day properly known as the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics "to renew,...
Shamrock courtesy of unsplash.com
The story of the Shamrock is one that everyone half knows. The half that everyone knows is the bit where St Patrick is trying to explain to the ancient Irish the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and was - like many preachers before and since - having a bit of a struggle with the whole business of how God could be both One and Three at the same time. Then he chanced upon a tiny plant - the Shamrock - which had three leaves, individual, different & distinct - but was united in a single plant...
image of Remembrance Day parade in Enniskillen bomb 1987 from bbc.co.uk
What exactly is a ‘Spirit’?I remember once hearing a child of 11 being asked that question. It was a Holy Communion catechism class and she was meant to give the answer that the class had been told the previous week. The only problem was that she had not been there the previous week, so she had to make it up. She said: “The spirit is the bit of you that lives on after all is rest is dead and gone.”I thought that was pretty good on the spur of the moment.As you may be...
jesuit london marathon runners
As most regular readers will know, one constant aspect of my first year in the Jesuit novitiate thus far has been preparing to run the London Marathon in aid of Jesuit Missions. On Sunday 24th April I completed the marathon and so now it feels right to reflect on and share what I have taken from this experience.The Day Itself:For the running enthusiasts reading I should start by recommending running the London Marathon. It was an incredible experience from start to finish. A lot of it is a blur...
The Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance (Confession). This window depicts a Priest raising his right hand in absolution of a penitent in Confession. James Bradley on Flickr
“‘You see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’”I have a friend who is a politician -but don’t hold that against him. He is really not like other politicians, at least as you may have read about them in newspapers. For one thing, he’s not actually very good...
praying with the rosary
In this month of May we’re asked to pray with Pope Francis for respect for women: that in every country of the world, women may be honoured and respected, and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed. The pope’s Evangelisation Intention concerns the Holy Rosary: that families, communities and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelisation and peace.It’s well known that, not long ago in our own history, women had to struggle for the most basic of...
Close up of a guitar being played - image from unsplash.com
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is play guitar in church, in South America, in the dark.I always used to enjoy playing with the Cathedral choir. But what would often happen is that just as we were playing nicely along a little hymn then suddenly, with no warning, all the lights would go out and we would be plunged into the most absolute darkness. The Blackout came without warning, or prediction, apparently at the time of its own malevolent choosing. Perhaps it was just my...
Long shot of whiskey being poured into a glass with ice.
“By this love you have for one anotherEveryone will know that you are my disciples.”Our religion is – or should be – the most complete possible expression in our lives of the love that God has shown to us. Sadly, it is not always so; there have been times when religious difference has caused people to fail enormously in love for one another. Even people who call themselves Christians have sometimes failed to love other Christians of a different stripe. Nowhere has that...
A shepherd watches over his sheep
I don’t get to say this very often, but for once, I think I really know exactly what Jesus is talking about. My family is from the hill-country of Donegal – good sheep-farming country. And my great uncle William was a good shepherd. Every day until the day he died at the age of 92, the first thing he had to do was to go and check on the sheep and make sure that nothing bad had happened to them during the night. So every morning, before dawn, he would get up, walk the three miles up...
An older man praying
“when you grow oldyou will stretch out your hands,and somebody else will put a belt round youand take you where you would rather not go.”I think we’ve all had experiences of being taken where we would rather not go…Until about five years before his death, Father – I’ll call him Father John - was not the best loved man in the British Province of the Society of Jesus - not by a long chalk. He was respected certainly, admired even, for his zeal, commitment,...

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