Spiritual Journeys

Credit: Benji Aird via Unsplash
In March, we want to pray with Pope Francis for families – “that families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments". It’s a prayer we want to make at this time of Lent and in this Year of Mercy. As Pope Francis said, last year, "All families need God: all, all! They need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness". This month’s universal intention of the Holy Father brings that need to our attention,...
Father teaches his young son to ride a bicycle
I was told this one by one of the fathers in a Parish where I used to work - I’ll call him Tom.He told me that many times in his life, his own father had told him that one of the happiest days of his entire life had been the day he taught Tom to ride a bicycle. A small thing perhaps, but to Tom’s Dad, it symbolised everything that he had hoped to pass on to Tom in wisdom and wealth. It was a symbol - a brief encapsulating vignette - of everything fatherhood had meant to him.Tom loved and...
On retreat at St Beuno's
It’s been just over a week since we got back from making the spiritual exercises during our long retreat and us first years are now away again doing our short experiments. I’m down in London, working in a hospice, which is something that definitely pushes my boundaries – it is very much outwith my life experience to date.The long retreat was much more intense than I expected. Spending 30 days in silence and with God is both wonderful and deeply challenging and it has taken me quite a few days...
A man clutches his ice cream
I am sure that, this morning, as soon as we awoke, all of us had just one major concern in our minds – would Ireland beat England at Twickenham this afternoon?When I was very young, my mother’s most annoying favourite saying was: “Offer it up for the Holy Souls in Purgatory”. Usually she said it to me when I was filled with righteous indignation at some major injustice that had been perpetrated against me – such as an unequal division of the ice cream. It is not, you understand, that I could...
Bread and Flowers from Unsplash
We believe that men and women do not live by bread alone, but by the presence and goodness of God in our lives.Two of my oldest friends are called Charlie and Sarah. They married about fifteen years ago. And, quite quickly they had two children, called Eddie and David. Then, about four years after they married, just when they had settled down comfortably to live happily ever after, Sarah developed a cancer of the brain. She suffered great pain and frequently she could not eat. And Charlie made...
After the crowds have dispersed: St Peter's Basilica
Fr Jim Crampsey SJ attended the events in the Vatican to mark the end of the Year of Consecrated Life.  There is a passage which appears in the Synoptic Gospels in the context of the first sending out of the disciples which begins 'take no bag'. It is also a key scriptural passage in the Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus. Nevertheless the first task in the days for the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life was to collect a bag full of goodies. Tickets for this came with a...
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Just once in a while, usually in that really quiet period after Mass when nearly all of the people have gone, I will notice out of the corner of my eye a young woman or a young man hanging about suspiciously near the poor box by the candle-stand. And as I clear up after Mass, they will continue to hang around, loitering with what looks like intent. And then when I walk up to the back of the Church, they will very slowly sidle up to me. And then, as they get near me, I will see a shifty look...
Clouds Bhavyesh Acharya via Unsplash
The Holy Father has once again, this month, invited his Global Prayer Network, the Apostleship of Prayer, to pray with him about the great concerns that face humanity. This month of February finds him directing our attention to the area about which he wrote with such power and passion in 2015’s groundbreaking encyclical letter, Laudato Si.  His universal prayer intention, which he invites all people of good will everywhere to ponder and pray about, is: “That we may take good care of...
image found and saved from www.mcgilldaily.com
In today’s gospel the people of his home town turn against Jesus, and try to do away with him by pushing him over the brow of the steep hill that there town is built on. No-one has ever tried to push me over the brow of a cliff! Don't get me wrong - most of the time I'm very grateful for that; but I do sometimes wonder why not. I’ve been, for the best part of forty years, a Jesuit, a very public follower of Jesus. But no-one, in all that time, has ever attacked me for this in the way they...
Beautiful flowers dying by Daria Shevtsova
The philosopher and spiritual writer, Raissa Maritain, died some months after suffering a stroke. During those months she lay in a hospital bed, unable to speak. After her death, her husband, the renowned philosopher, Jacques Maritain, in preparing her journals for publication, wrote these words:     “At a moment when everything collapsed for both of us, and which as followed by four agonizing months, Raissa was walled in herself by a sudden attack of aphasia. Whatever...

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