Saints and seasons

Still from The Godfather
You may not think immediately of The Godfather when you hear the title ‘Wonderful Counsellor’ in the passage from Isaiah that is read at Midnight Mass on Christmas Day, but James Crampsey SJ suggests that the association can help us think about what that title means. The one who holds it helps us to ‘recognise the power of God at work in our world in others and in ourselves.’Read 'A child by any other name': the introduction to our Advent series. Read >>I...
Robert Southwell SJ
On 1 December, the Society of Jesus celebrates the feast of a number of English Jesuit reformation martyrs, among them Saints Edmund Campion and Robert Southwell.  Southwell is perhaps best known for his poetry, to which Brian McClorry SJ offers an introduction here. How does Southwell’s poetry open up a space for Ignatian conversational prayer? Clive James once provocatively remarked that poetry is ‘any piece of writing that can’t be quoted except out of context’. If poetry drowns in...
Words of Isaiah 9
‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’: this grand and evocative list from the book of Isaiah is read to us at Midnight Mass on Christmas Day each year.  Thinking Faith’s Advent series will consider how each of these titles can kindle our imaginations as we prepare to celebrate the gift of the Incarnation. Karen Eliasen sets the scene by exploring the significance of this ‘remarkable list of names’ as it appears in Isaiah 9:6....
Stained glass window depicting Christ the King
The Church’s year concludes with a feast which looks towards the holiness and grace of the Kingdom of God.  Roger Dawson SJ explains how the readings for the Feast of Christ the King in Year B juxtapose the rule of Christ with a more familiar – and, if we’re honest, often more appealing – expression of earthly power. ‘This feast is not to flatter a king with a fragile ego in need of reassurance, but to celebrate in gratitude the love and kindness of someone...
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...
St Patrick
Parades, green clothing and Irish flags: even if you are not actively taking part in them, you will certainly come across celebrations of St Patrick’s Day on 17 March.  What do we know about the man who is best known as the Patron Saint of Ireland, and where can we find the Christian message in the midst of the shamrocks and pints of Guinness? On 17 March, people across the world will discover their long-forgotten Irish ancestry, or blithely ignore their lack of any relation to...
St Thomas Aquinas
On 28 January, we celebrate the Feast of St Thomas Aquinas, the great theologian and Doctor of the Church. The Thomist account of religion and prayer can provide a basis for unity in a society that is in so many ways divided, says Joe Egerton. He applies the thinking of St Thomas to a question that is acutely relevant in contemporary society: the right of the State to legislate on matters of religion. There are many views on the position of religion in the contemporary state. Some regard...
The Holy Family
Our series exploring Jesus’s family tree concludes with a study of those closest to him: Mary and Joseph. Anthony Towey wonders how the ‘greatest story ever told’ has acquired such a peaceful gloss, when in fact it is riddled with disturbance and uncertainty.  For the Feast of the Holy Family, we turn our gaze to two new parents and try to capture the faith, hope and love that sustained them in their turmoil. From a very young age, Mary, Joseph and Jesus were held up...
Zechariah and Elizabeth
As Christmas approaches, we sidestep from tracing Jesus’s ancestry through Matthew’s genealogy to spend some time with those relatives of Jesus with whom Luke opens his gospel. How does Luke place Zechariah and Elizabeth in the wide lineage of salvation history, and how does their son, John the Baptist, carry this forward? John Moffatt SJ helps us to further investigate Jesus’s familial line – Jesus: Who Do You Think You Are?The gospels are texts with long roots,...
From 'Josiah - Jechoniah - Shealtiel' by Michelangelo
If you’ve ever wondered about the inclusion of Jechoniah in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, you are in good company: none other than Sherlock Holmes has posed the very same question.  In our Advent exploration of Jesus’s ancestry, alongside Pray as you go, Karen Eliasen ventures some answers. ‘Jechoniah’s inclusion in Jesus’s genealogy reminds us of God’s hand at work, even in the depth of unimaginable national disaster, to restore his anointed king and kingdom.’The question ‘Why is...

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