Saints and seasons

Photo of desert by TREEAID at flickr.com
Early Christians spent time in the desert because it was there that they felt best placed to turn themselves to God. Nearly 2000 years later, the deserts of the world can still orient us to God, but perhaps for a different reason. Jaime Tatay SJ uses Ignatian ideas to show that the desertification of the natural world should challenge us ‘to shape more enlightened and responsible ways of thinking, feeling and behaving’. When we think of a desert today, we imagine a waterless, desolate area...
The Negev Desert
Thinking Faith’s Lenten reflections this year will take us into the desert, as we look at how and why it is so often a place of encounter with God and of transformation. James Hanvey SJ introduces the desert as a living memory within the Christian tradition – what does it mean to be people of the desert, and why might there be a heightened awareness of that during Lent?Some years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Negev while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I was completely unprepared for...
O Antiphons
I once heard a memorable homily that gave eloquent expression to the idea that the structure of the liturgical year is not a matter of doing what we did last year again and in exactly the same way. Yes, each year we live the same sequence of Advent and Christmas, then Lent and Easter, with blocks of Ordinary Time in between. But every time we approach one of those seasons, each of us is changed from the person who celebrated it the previous year. So it’s never a matter of doing it all...
O Rex Gentium
 Antiphons. They’re the lines you say before and after the psalms during morning and evening prayer, aren’t they? In the case of the O Antiphons, they also find expression in daily Mass in the days leading up to Christmas, and in the hymn ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’.The liturgical context is all well and good, but how do you pray with an antiphon? We know how to recite them, how to sing them, but there must be a way for us to make them more personal, to draw food for...
Light shining in darkness
A few weeks before he died, I got a letter from my grandfather. I remember laughing as I read it – it was vintage Grandpa. I’d written to him a few weeks earlier, telling him about my experience of walking the first part of the Camino Ignaciano, as he had always been a keen hill walker. He wanted to know whether I had been with a companion, or whether the photographs I had sent of me sitting on a rock were ‘selfies’, a concept with which he was only vaguely acquainted,...
Burning bush
O Adonai! This series on the O Antiphons promised us trauma and balm. Well there has been trauma aplenty in these last months. Trauma registers in the body’s feelings. These are my feelings and I apologise if they are not yours, which they may not be – even if you and I have been preoccupied with the same events, the odds are 50/50 that we feel differently about them. What’s more, I know these feelings don’t make an argument. But these are my feelings, mornings after,...
The O Antiphons
The O Antiphons shape the Church’s liturgy in the days leading up to Christmas. Liturgist Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ explains how the antiphons function during Evening Prayer and as Gospel Acclamations, and introduces the ancient texts that Thinking Faith will explore over the coming weeks. The O Antiphons, as they are commonly called, are the chants of ancient origin sung or recited at the beginning and end of the Magnificat during the service of Evening Prayer on each of the days...
Jéhovah devient notre père by Jean-Georges Cornélius.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was promoted by St Claude La Colombière and St Margaret Mary Alacoque, whose relics will come to London with the Sacred Heart of Mercy Mission this week. James Hanvey SJ explains why this devotion will always be central to the life of the Church and why it is the foundation of our intimacy with Christ. ‘Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, has a heart… With him it is always personal.’ The first time I visited Paray-le-Monial I...
On 17 September we celebrate the feast of a Jesuit theologian who was a key figure in the Counter-Reformation. St Robert Bellarmine is perhaps best known for his dealings with one Galileo Galilei, whom he warned off teaching the Copernican ideas that would later underpin astronomy. However, Vatican astronomer Br Guy Consolmagno SJ takes a closer look at the interaction between the theologian and the scientist and finds that there was more to the Galileo Affair than meets the eye. The...
Picture of eucharistic gifts
In the bread and wine we have ‘both sign and realisation of a new creation, binding it together and transforming it from within.’ For the feast of Corpus Christi, Fr Harry Elias reflects on the communion with Christ into which we and all of creation are welcomed through the Eucharist.  This is what Paul says about the Last Supper, which he calls the Lord’s Supper:The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break,...

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