Spirituality and Catholic Life

From 'Baptism of Christ in the Jordan' by Jacob de Wit
When you respond to someone’s sneeze with an instinctive ‘bless you’, do you ever think about what you’re saying? Sr Teresa White reflects on the essentially social dynamic of a blessing and the way in which John the Baptist, the feast of whose Passion we observe on 29 August, was a communicator of blessing in his life. Blessing, in my childhood, was considered to be the preserve of priests. That this was so is confirmed, in my memory, by visits to our family by the...
Photo of Pope Francis
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, published on 8 April 2016, transposes church teaching on marriage and the family from the key of law to that of virtue and should be celebrated, says Nicholas Austin SJ. This powerful new document offers ‘a Gospel-inspired vision of what family life can be, a word of encouragement for those who are not yet there, and above all another example of the discerning way of proceeding that the pope has modelled’. The topic of...
11-17 May is Mental Health Awareness Week, which seems a good time to ask: is religious belief good for your mental health? Roger Dawson SJ looks at one particular process through which we might assess the benefits of religion for mental health: the influence of religious belief on coping strategies.The relationship between psychology and religion historically has been tense and characterised by suspicion, with some famous psychologists claiming that religion is essentially pathological, while...
Palm Sunday 2015 in Managrú
A team of two Jesuits in formation and two Maronite sisters, from Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Britain, travelled to the remote village of Managrú in Colombia to accompany the community in their celebration of Holy Week. A member of that team, Philip Harrison SJ, describes how he spent a Triduum like no other in the presence of a community devastated by poverty yet radiant with Easter joy. Managrú surprised us from the start, appearing suddenly out of the dense jungle vegetation. The...
Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society
The late Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society is often hailed as a paradigm of an inspirational teacher. But his words to his students – ‘Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary’ – are further away from the Gospel than we sometimes think, says Damian Howard SJ. He offers a more nuanced model of what it means to form ‘men and women for others’, as Jesuit educators aspire to do. How does the Ignatian spirit enrich the life...

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