Spiritual Journeys

A rifle, from unsplash by Thomas Tucker
The Monthly Intentions of the Holy Father are our way of sharing his concerns and taking these into our own hearts and prayer. Sometimes these concerns can be uncomfortable, even challenging. That is because they must be about real-life issues and these can often be complex and awkward. Our Christian faith is no better than superstition if we restrict it to safe topics or only with a restricted range of concerns, deemed appropriate. This month’s First Intention of the Holy Father is one such –...
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...
The calling of St Matthew Caravaggio (detail)
Conversion is a fundamental event in the life of the Christian.  The Gospel of Mark opens with the exhortation of Jesus to conversion: “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15).  The Gospel of Matthew also affirms that “Jesus began to preach and to say: ‘repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand’” (Mt 4:17).In the final analysis, conversion is the message of Jesus at the end of his earthly mission.  The Risen Christ, in...
A class of children. Used from Unsplash.com
To be honest, I’m not generally the best with commandments, either at giving them or keeping them. But two experiences have really changed my understanding of what they are.The first was a time in my life before I became a priest when I was sent by my Jesuit superiors to be a teacher. I was not good at it and I did not enjoy it. My big problem was that I just could not keep order in class. One word from me and the children did whatever they wanted to do. I tried everything I could - I tried...
Credit Flickr
“Have you said your prayers?”When I was a child, my mother would ask me that each night before I went to sleep. Perhaps yours did the same.So the idea of praying as speaking words to God came to me early on. Later I read in the gospel about a time when his disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. “Say this when you pray”, he said, and taught them the Our Father.Reciting set prayers can take you a long way in building your relationship with God. For Catholics, the Our Father, Hail Mary,...
Image by Peter Oswald used from unsplash.com
I remember very clearly the day when I realised that I was just not cut out to be the medical director of a Christian hospital. It was the entire day that I spent trying to allocate fairly four prime car-parking spaces between six senior doctors. It was a huge issue involving wounded pride, insulted egos and bitter recriminations that never – even after the expenditure of vastly disproportionate time and all the charm I was capable of - reached any satisfactory conclusion. And the one thing in...
JPII Statue in Mexico by Jorge Zapata on unsplash.com
Some people will have just one vivid memory of the 2nd April, 2005. It was the day Pope John Paul the Second died – the greatest and best shepherd of our lifetime. That is the only thing that most people remember about that day.But the other thing that I remember from that day is that it was also the day I heard of the death of Dennis, the greatest church leader I have ever met personally. (Admittedly, I never met the Pope.) Not one, but two very great shepherds died that day.Our Holy Father’s...
Credit Andrew Itaga via Unsplash
Generations of Catholics have long known the month of May as Mary’s month. Ignatian spirituality provides us with a wonderful way of combining the Pope’s First Intention of this month, “that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace”, with our particular devotional focus this month.  St Ignatius recommends, in his Spiritual Exercises, that we take our petitions to Our Lady and ask her to present them to her...
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...

Pages