Spiritual Journeys

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...
Quechua Woman, Peru
Most of us would never dream of leaving the house without checking (sometimes, for some of us, five or six times!) if we’ve got certain items with us. Keys – check. Rosaries in the pocket, and maybe a small prayer-card or prayer-book – check. Transport card or money for fares – check. Wallet and credit-cards – check. Outer jacket or rainwear, especially in a British summer – check. Wristwatch – check.  And something that almost everyone has to have...
Homeless men asleep on church benches
“Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”My worlds of priesthood and medicine don’t often collide, but just and again it happens – usually it’s funny; sometimes it’s sad; just now and again it’s inspiring.Just recently, I came across in this very Church one of my patients who, he wouldn’t mind my saying, is homeless and has quite a lot of both physical and mental health problems. And it...
Image by Noah Grezlak on unsplash.com
Just recently, when I was a teenager, I used to spend a lot of time volunteering at a home for adults with severe mental disabilities - people who as a result of accident of birth or disease had brain injuries and so had the bodies of adults, but the minds of children.And one day we took a group of them to a Safari Park. For anyone who hasn’t been, that is a kind of zoo where the animals are kept free to roam around the parkland and the visitors drive through in vehicles. It’s...
Thatched_roof_houses_in_Guyana
“I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love.”The best – the very best - church leader I have ever known is not a priest, or a nun, or indeed any other kind of “professional” religious. He is an Amerindian lay church leader and he works in a Church community in a little village in the Amazon, many thousands of miles away from here. Perhaps I should explain: in the Rupununi, there are about 30,000...
Stephen B Whatley's the Sacred Heart of Jesus - part image
I have been telling many of our students here at Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy,  that when we die God is not going to be interested in how you did in this module, or what mark you got in this exam.  However He will be interested in how much love you shared in your life. Today the church focuses on the mysterious way that God manifests his love for us through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is a beautiful devotion that has been part of the Church’s...
For many years I lived in South America in a place where most of the people aren’t Christians. And so it would often happen that many of the people who would come to Mass wouldn’t actually be Catholics. They came because they wanted to feel close to God and they felt that in Church. And also, if we are honest, they came because it was free. In their religion, you had to pay at the door, so they couldn’t get over the fact that here, you only had to put into a voluntary...
As students all over the world enter exam season – are we putting them under too much stress?  Exams and anxiety go hand in hand, we all want to do well when we face a test. Jesus’ ultimate test was when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane and we are told that he sweated blood as he prayed before his arrest.  This is no exaggeration – sweating blood  is a medically acknowledged phenomenon, Hematohidrosis, that has been observed in times of great stress....
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...

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