Culture and Society

Woman at window credit Nigel Tadyanehondo via Unsplash
Fr Damian Howard SJ preached at the JRS UK Advent Service about refugee wisdom which knows the truth about human life.There was an Advent party recently in the East End of London. Four random locals found themselves in conversation about the dreadful fix the world was in. Prudently they avoided Brexit, but they didn’t hesitate to bemoan the natural catastrophes afflicting so many corners of the globe, the persecution of entire peoples for their religion or their ethnicity, and, of course,...
The design of the All Souls’ Chapel in the church of the Sacred Heart, Wimbledon is remarkable.  Approaching it, perhaps the first thing to notice is the reredos.  On this vividly carved altarpiece, the artist, Drysdale, was trying to show the diverse multitude of souls approaching Christ for mercy. The countless dead.  The carving shows the Holy Souls marching towards a place just below a Christus who is the Sacred Heart. This march is not a danse macabre: Drysdale introduces no...
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,...
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...
Jesuit novices, from left: Paolo Beltrame, Thiranjala Weerasinghe, Desmond Gibney, Dunstan Rodrigues, John Bosco Noronha, Paul Prior, Ian Jackson.
 Jesuit novice Dunstan Rodrigues reflects on the World Meeting of Families. In the photo from left to right the Jesuit novices: Paolo Beltrame, Thiranjala Weerasinghe, Desmond Gibney, Dunstan Rodrigues, John Bosco Noronha, Paul Prior, Ian Jackson. Matthew Tumulty, the eighth novice, is not in the photo because he was preparing for his own personal meeting with Pope Francis!The novices of Britain, Ireland and the Low Countries had the privilege to join in the World Meeting of...
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...
Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash
 I hope this will not seem disrespectful, but do you ever wonder what it must have felt like to be Jesus?- to have the power to heal people just by touching them...“Do you feel sick?” – I touch you – and immediately you get better. No fuss, no bother, no drugs, no side-effects, no operations, no clinical commissioning groups, no Health & Social Care Bills – you just get better right away. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to be able to do for people?I often wonder that because, during...
School of art on fire Credit Jeff J Mitchell
Buildings project personalities – whether it be that of Shah Jahan for the Taj Mahal, Michelangelo for St Peter’s in Rome or Joseph Stalin in Moscow. Buildings also incarnate ideas, fears, hopes and dreams.When the flames of destruction touched the Rennie Mackintosh building, it unleashed a powerful destructive force in Garnethill; but it also unlocked a complex ripple of emotions, both locally and across the globe, because the building projects a personality;  it was not just an assembly...
Aloysius de Gonzaga as a boy
AMDGThe patron saint of young people, and of Jesuit scholastics (students for the priesthood), we celebrate the life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga SJ in a special way this year with a Jubilee Year to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth. Why is his life worth celebrating?Aloysius, or Luigi, gave up a privileged background to enter the Society of Jesus. While studying for the priesthood, he died while caring for plague victims on the streets of Rome. Rather than flee the daunting realities of his...
Westminster, the river Thames and Westminster bridge
The Windrush scandal signifies more than Ministerial incompetence: it has revealed the shocking inhumanity of our immigration policy.  How can we talk about British values when we deliberately design policies that negate the values of hospitality, compassion, solidarity and justice?  So far so obvious for some, so contentious for others.But where are the ethical principles going to come from that might guide us towards putting things right?  The Christian tradition might be a...

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