Spiritual Journeys

Superior Generals Nicolas and Kolvenbach in 2008
Dear Brother in Christ,I do not know who you are.I write this on Thursday and you will be elected as Father General on Friday. Whether you are old or young, or whether I know you well, or whether we have only exchanged a smile and a few words in these last days, I will speak.Firstly, the days of murmuratio will have been gruelling for your soul: as the hours have unfolded, you will have grown aware that people have been inquiring about you and scrutinising you, and those people who know you....
Old books
“It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.”When the Falklands war started, I was about 18 and we happened to be living next door to the Argentinean naval attaché. My mother heard the news on the radio and (being that kind of woman) immediately went next door to ask him what it was all about – and what in particular the Argentinians wanted with what she thought were some semi-detached bits of Scotland. He was horrified at the news, “...
It is October and the Holy Father invites us all to consider a fresh pair of intentions throughout the month. Like his predecessors did, Francis entrusts these intentions to the Apostleship of Prayer, his own worldwide prayer-network, for us to spread to the whole people of God.This month, the first intention concerns an area we maybe don’t pray about often – journalism, and journalists.The month’s missionary concern reminds us of World Mission Sunday and our missionary roles....
A man lights a cigarette in the dark
I have a very good friend who is a drug addict. He hasn’t used any “stuff” for about four years now, but he still calls himself a drug addict. And his story is the usual one.At about age 12 he started smoking cigarettes, not because he really liked them, but because it was fashionable, all his friends were doing it and also because it was a really good way of annoying his parents. About age 15, he began using a little marijuana because that made him feel good and because there...
Boy flicks through text book
Pope Paul VI was once approached by an enthusiastic spirit-filled young man who told him that he wanted to be a martyr.“No,” said the Holy Father after due consideration, “be a teacher. That is much, much harder.”Well, my father was a schoolteacher. He was never really happy with that. He had hoped for more in life – a sparkling career in what he thought was more a glamorous profession and certainly a better paid one. But, for many reasons, he did not succeed in...
A Child's Baptism on Flickr by Joe Green
Baptism  means being where Jesus is.  It places us in the place of Jesus.  The New Testament makes it clear that one of the most important ways in which this is expressed is through the fact that we pray the prayer of Jesus as we stand in the place of Jesus.  That is, in the Holy Spirit we say, ‘Abba, Father’. Yet where Jesus is, is in itself a many-layered notion.  Jesus is in the presence of God the Father and so when we stand where Jesus is we too...
Novices make their First Vows
Dear ‘voventes’, family, friends, companions,Vowday. After two years of probation we are here together at this important encounter with the Lord. The ‘voventes’ are making us witnesses of their intimate secret which they bear in their hearts: the knowledge that the Lord touched each of them in a very special way and that He has been transforming them ever since.Their selection of three texts from Holy Scripture today is a testimony of their private and intimate...
The communal sharing of food
There used to be a tradition in Ireland that at a christening the godparents would give the newly baptised infant a little silver christening cup. But when my mother was asked to be godmother to my cousin Catherine, she didn’t have the money to get it immediately.But eventually it was bought.And then it had to be engraved.And then it had to be polished.And then I think if we are honest, it got a little bit forgotten about, gathering dust on a high shelf.Then my family moved to another...
In this month of September, we get ready to say goodbye to summer for another year. Some of us have to get used to going back to work after a summer break or,to get ready to go back to school or to begin a new course of studies, perhaps in a new place. We need to keep in mind that summer holidays and the possibility of studying are among the opportunities unavailable to many people for whom life is a struggle that has to continue no matter what month or season it is.A disadvantaged family might...
Week of guided prayer group, Urmston  Credit: Simon Bishop
Fr David, our parish priest accosted us when we were leaving mass saying “I need your help”! He asked my wife, Deirdre, and I to be part of a group of twelve attending the Ignatian Week of Guided Prayer because he felt it would be beneficial to us. We said “yes” immediately, not knowing what the week would truly involve apart from the introductory Sunday session for one hour and giving one hour each day to the retreat, half an hour of prayer and half an hour with a...

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