Spirituality and Catholic Life

washing feet
The liturgies of the Easter Triduum are rich and evocative, and the depth of their meaning and impact can only be discovered if we participate fully in them. Sr Anouska Robinson-Biggin FCJ identifies three invitations that we are called to respond to over these days, and offers an Ignatian guide to how we might answer those calls in prayer and action. In the final days of Lent, the liturgies of Holy Week issue each of us with an invitation to ‘be with’ Jesus in a special way. This time,...
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...
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...
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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