Spiritual Journeys

I remember the day, in fact the exact moment, when I learned to pray – really, really hard.It was when I was about 12 and my family went for a holiday to France. My father drove the car as far as Dover, we got the ferry to Calais and my mother drove down to Paris – at least that was the plan. And it worked fine until we were about twenty minutes down the big motorway from Calais to Paris.Now, as everyone knows, the key thing to remember about driving on French roads is that you are...
Child soldier
It’s December; we are in Advent, the season that reminds us that we are approaching Christmas. Some of our attention is turning towards children – the Christ-child of the well-loved Nativity and Infancy stories from Luke’s Gospel and the children for whom Christmas is a special time, although not always for wholesome or sacred reasons. Advent evolved in the Catholic Christian imagination, not as another Lent but responding to a sense that reflective preparation is necessary,...
James Conway SJ
Only as a Jesuit, could I dared have hoped to have been given so many incredible opportunities to see and experience life in all of its diversity.I write this piece on the tenth anniversary of my ordination. Such milestones punctuate our lives. They help us to pause and look back over the paths we've trodden. I entered the Jesuit novitiate when I was 31 years old and so brought with me a fair amount of lived experience. The thread, or one of them, which connects my life 'before' and...
Fr Provincial (right) in conversation with other delegates at GC36
I have an armed guard outside my bedroom. Two soldiers and an armoured car.At first I thought that it might be to protect the Brexit Provincial from the hordes of angry Roman Pro-Europeans, but I was assured that this was not the case and this strategy was part of a generally heightened security around Italy following the terrorist attacks in France and Germany. For the last five weeks, the Italian Army has been sitting under my first-floor window, an impressive presence, amiably restricting...
Group CEO Sleepout - a picture of the group
“Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection”.You should always meet your heroes; true heroism requires the reality test. That is why Thomas needed to put his fingers into the holes in Jesus’ hands. The ultimate things in life – and death – can only be faced with the confidence of a tested truth. And, as it happens, I met one of mine this week. I was doing a sponsored sleep-out for a homeless charity at Lord’s cricket ground. (When I was a teenager, my...
One human family and refugees welcome banners
As the days really shorten and darken in the nations of Britain and of the northern hemisphere, the monthly Universal Intention of the Holy Father, commended to the church though his Prayer Network, keeps us mindful of the awful suffering of refugees, many of whom have come to these nations to escape persecution and violence. We are invited, through prayer and reflection, to grow in compassion for all displaced people, most of whom experience great need and pain. We have a powerful reminder of...
'Crimson Tide': a taut, claustrophobic thriller
The late Tony Scott was a movie director who was somewhat overshadowed by his more acclaimed Oscar-winning film-maker brother, Ridley Scott; but the corpus of Tony’s movie work, if more populist, is not slight. 'Top Gun', with Tom Cruise, was Scott’s breakthrough movie; and others ( e.g. ‘Enemy of the State’ and ‘Déjà Vu’) are certainly worth an evening of popcorn and thoughtful entertainment.My favourite Tony Scott movie is a taut, claustrophobic...
Two groups of young men gathered in a huddle
The first time I ever read this Gospel in Church, it was when I was working in the Caribbean. And it was to a youth Mass in a place called Albouystown - a very bad part of Georgetown in Guyana - a rough area, full of poverty, disease, violence and drugs.So, I read them the Gospel and I asked the young people to think of an image of what it would be like for Jesus to walk into their town and into their lives, the way He walked into Jericho and into the life of Zacchaeus.They thought for a bit...
Pope Francis addresses GC36
After a concert at Carnegie Hall, the wonderful comic pianist, Victor Borge, had an unexpected visitor to his dressing room: a Secret Service agent for the US Vice President, who had been in the audience that night.The Secret Service man said: “The Vice President will be with you in 30 seconds, and you can ask him anything you like.”This caught Borge off-guard… ask anything at all??With such a blank agenda, Borge found that he was fixating on one question… “Mr...
A close up of a set of rosary beads
“God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”The one patient for whom no doctor can do anything is the patient who doesn’t think that he has a problem. I have a good friend who is an alcoholic. Since you will never meet him, I will tell you that his name is Tom. He has now not drunk alcohol for ten years, but he still knows that he is an alcoholic. Before that, his drinking destroyed his family, his job, his home and very nearly killed him. One day during Lent ten years ago, the...

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