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An older man listening
An old friend of mine is a cardiologist - a specialist heart doctor. In fact, he is probably the most respected specialist heart doctor in his country. After a stellar academic career, he became at 43 the youngest professor of cardiology in his country’s history. Through his research, he has introduced new techniques and better treatments which have saved the lives of many hundreds of patients. And he is also a good man - a man of great prayer and personal holiness – rather more so than is...
Young girl with tear running down her face
“I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.”I have a friend – a good and holy Jesuit who is also a world-renowned Biblical expert. I’ll call him Fr John Smith. And his particular expertise is in Biblical languages – he is supposed to know many of the languages which existed in Palestine in Old Testament times, which is not bad at his current age of 92!But, to tell you the truth, he is also an...
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 –...
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...
Schindler's Factory in Krakow Schindler's list installation from wikimedia commons
‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’Tertullian, writing in the 2nd Century, says that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church. And, since he was there at the time, I guess we have to take his word for it.One thing that only occurred to me recently: martyrs are only canonized with hindsight, and usually a few hundred years after the event. In any culture, at any time, there are only a very few people with the integrity and foresight to...
Bread and Flowers from Unsplash
“I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” [John 11.25-26]Most Jesuits, in fact I think most people who have done the Spiritual Exercises, will tell you that the most difficult time is the three days which Ignatius asks us to spend in company with the Lord in the Tomb – the distance from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.It is a cold, hard, lonely silent place, sitting in...
A composite image of Thomas More and Edmund Campion SJ  facing each other
The Martin Scorcese film Silence now on general release. It highlights a time in the Church’s life in Japan when many Christians were martyred for their Christian faith. Jesuit priests and Catholic men and women were tortured in the hope that they would deny their faith in Christ and in His Body, the Church. It might seem very remote from our own time and experience and yet, today, we hear extraordinary stories of Christians in the Middle East, of Jesuits and Christian men and women,...
Older woman holds her head in her hands - by Christian Newman on unsplash
This Sunday is Christmas day, a day when, by long tradition, all over the world, Christians wake up happy – thankful for all of the good things they have been given in life. Not just the good things they have been given this morning, but all of the good things they have received from God’s hand throughout their lives. And thankful most especially for the people they have been given to love and people who have been given to love them. This is a day for rejoicing in all that God has...
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...
Margaret Hassan (Fitzsimons)
Around about this time twelve years ago, you may just remember, the whole country was talking about Margaret Hassan, a middle aged woman from Dublin who worked most of her life as an aid worker in Iraq and, that winter, was tortured and killed on television. Her horrific death brought her fifteen minutes of fame and subsequent oblivion. I want to briefly to remind you of the story of her life, because I believe it is the best expression I know in action of the words of this Gospel.She was born...

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