Peter Gallagher SJ

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
The imitation of Christ is our mission.  To be like Jesus is the task he has given us in the world: the cup that I must drink, you shall drink.    This imitation is much more than copying or mimicry.  To be like the One who came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many is to become him. It is to live in his life.  The imitation of Christ is feasible for us.  This is not an aspiration to be like someone who is so different from us, so far above us,...
Padre Pio used with permission
The 23rd of September is the Feast of Padre Pio, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. He died fifty years ago on this day in 1968.  For fifty years before that, Padre Pio bore on his body, the stigmata. The stigmata are the marks of the sufferings of Christ. The five precious wounds are the holes in the feet, in the hands and in the side. The stigmata are the marks of the nails and of the centurion’s spear.  The strange miracle of the stigmata, which seems like the very opposite of healing, was...
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
The Sixth Station of the Cross: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.  An act of kindness on the road to the crucifixion leaves a physical memorial: an image of the face of Jesus is vividly impressed on a towel or veil.  The name Veronica is sometimes said to mean ‘true icon’, ‘true image’ although it could also be a form of Berenice. True images of Jesus Christ can be imprinted by compassion.  Acts of tenderness towards those who are suffering are icons of the loving kindness...
Photo by N R on Unsplash
Pure unspoilt religion in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.  The pure version of our faith, according to St James, is all about two aspects of our relation to other people: first, we are to help them in their need, and, second, we are not to be corrupted by them.  The demand that we help people is challenging, it calls out of us love, charity, compassion, when perhaps we are...
Madonna della Cintola from Wikimedia Commons
Old paintings of Saint Thomas the Apostle sometimes show him carrying a belt.  According to pious legend the doubting of Thomas extended to the Assumption of Our Lady.  He had been convinced of the Resurrection when the Risen Lord appeared to him and allowed him to inspect on his body the traces of the crucifixion.  My Lord and My God said Thomas when he believed.    He was again away from the group of apostles who witnessed the Assumption. Once more,  it is...
A bucket load of fish Photo by Zeshalyn Capindo on Unsplash
In The Tempest, Prospero is worried lest too light winning Make the prize light 1. Jesus feeds the people with a food which is a very valuable prize and which is not lightly won. Jesus asks: Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat? He only said this to test Philip. He himself knew exactly what he was going to do. The Lord knows that all will be well. Nevertheless for Philip, and probably for us, the searching question from Jesus, puts us on our mettle. What are we to say to him...
A wall of Sandals in a shop - Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash
If we are going to dedicate ourselves to being disciples of Jesus Christ what do we need, what must we take with us?  What can we dispense with?  He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff - no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses.  They were to wear sandals, but, he added, do not take a spare tunic. Simplicity is clearly the order of the day.  Let us get rid of what is unnecessary. Let us cut down; let us retrench; let us detach ourselves...
A woman makes a gesture of quiet with her finger over her lips - Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash
We are surprised by Jesus’ strong insistence to Jairus that he not tell anyone about his daughter’s recovery. The miracle is surely a persuasive sign of Jesus’ power and goodness. Shouldn’t everyone who hears of it have their faith strengthened? Some people were scornful of Jesus at the time: their laughter must have been silenced by the miracle: isn’t it good to confound those who scoff at faith? The calling back to life of the little girl is a sign of Jesus’ divine authority: isn’t it...
This Sunday we celebrate the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Do you remember why Zechariah had been struck dumb?They made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. You remember why Zechariah had been struck dumb? The beginning of Luke’s Gospel tells the story. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were exemplary people, living a good and holy life in the hill-country of Judea. They would have liked to have had children but had not been able to do so. They still prayed for a...
Five celebrants outside Sacred Heart Church
Yesterday evening five Jesuits celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of their ordination to the priesthood with many family and old friends.  The Sacred Heart Church in Wimbledon was the location of the ordinations in 1988, celebrated by Bishop Victor Guazelli and Fr Michael Campbell-Johnson SJ, who had recently taken over as Provincial.All five Jesuits retained strong links to the Wimbledon area so it was fitting to return to the Sacred Heart Church for the celebration.  Both Adrian...

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