Wednesday, 27 April 2011

God of Truth: How "reason" might lead to unbelief

by John Updike

Dale, an evangelical graduate student at a New England university, attempts to prove God by using a computer programme, so sure is he that God would show himself in the patterns of the universe. He asks the theology professor Roger Lambert for some money to fund the research. Roger is appalled by the notion, but out of some kind of seeming interest he decides initially to fund the research. Meanwhile, Roger is reintroduced to his niece Verna, who is a friend of Dale, and Roger feels an attraction to the 19 year old black sheep of his family.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Sunday

Ask a catechist and she'll tell you that the most important day of the year for a Christian is not Christmas - it's Easter. In the words of St. Paul, "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:14).

The Resurrection by Pierro della Francesca

Christ Vanishes

Mary looks back on the Resurrection...

A Short Meditation for Easter

Saturday, 23 April 2011

God of Grace: How God Saved a Family

By Evelyn Waugh

In my second year of university, I picked out Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder from the Big Read of the BBC, a compilation of Britain's favourite novels. Brideshead Revisited was the "Catholic classic" in the list, and without further need of convincing, I bought it from Waterstone's 3 for 2 deal along with a A Suitable Boy and A Prayer for Owen Meany. I quickly got into the book as it starts with the kind of heady university experience that I was then undergoing. It moved into a family drama, the characters of which all seemed recognisable to me and my Catholic setting. The decadence of the overprivileged was also immediately familiar, if a little guilt inducing.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Beatitudes of the Passion

The Kingdom of God is at hand! Throughout Holy Week, I have been reflecting not just on the passion of Jesus, but also on the Kingdom he began. The culmination of the Gospel was to give that life of his for us. And what else was his life, than the Kingdom of God? I realize that his passion cannot be separated from his public ministry, they are one. I am struck in listening to readings this week how Jesus with the same earnestness with which he sought the Kingdom, also seeks his fulfillment on the cross. So as I read the passion I try to make sense of its strangeness by bringing to mind some of the things Jesus did, the healing and reconciliation of the blind, the lame, the dispossessed. I try to take on the mind of the Beatitudes and see the passion in that light.

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday or Holy Friday - the day Christians worldwide remember the crucifixion of Jesus.

Christ of St. John of the Cross by Salvadore Dali

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Holy Thursday

It's Holy Thursday (aka Maundy Thursday), the first of the three most sacred days of the Christian calendar.

The Washing of the Feet
Palma Giovane 1591

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

a comma

[click on the image for original size]

During my visit to San Estaban in Salamanca last summer, I saw this beautiful light coming down through a window and landing softly on the floor just in front of me as I was walking up one of the stairs. It was as if inviting me to stop and pause for a moment, just to take a little break from the long day.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

How clouds can teach us what is important

On a day of the brightest sunshine I was looking up at the stark white clouds set against the blue sky, stretched out like silk. I wondered to myself, what is the most important thing in my life? Pausing for a while I waited, but I didn't receive an answer straight away. Nevertheless, the asking and waiting taught me something. Those pale clouds in the sky are formed when part of the earth, a ploughed field perhaps, is warmed by the sun. The air rises up into the sky carrying with it moisture that condenses into bundles of fluff at those cool high altitudes. Standing in the sunlight on that bright day, I felt my life too warmed by the sun and it raised my mind to what was important to me. My thoughts turned to dreams of the future. Not plans carefully worked out but deeper things some of which I could not even describe.

Monday, 11 April 2011

To make you feel my love

“When the rain
Is blowing in your face
And the whole world
Is on your case
I could offer you
A warm embrace
To make you feel my love”

Adele’s recent album 21 has broken the record for the number of weeks a female artist has remained at the top of the UK charts, and she is also having huge success in most other European countries, and in the US. 21 is currently the most downloaded album on itunes. I first came across Adele last year when I heard her sing Bob Dylan’s song “Make you feel my love” (from her first album 19), and immediately starred it on my Spotify library.   Her deep soul voice, accompanied by piano, seem to fit perfectly with this song, bringing out all its emotions. At the time I was struggling a bit with different things – and I got real comfort from listening to this song.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Finding the Still Point

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered.
T. S. Elliot, 'Burnt Norton'

Today I'm taking a well deserved day off from studies. It's been a hectic couple of weeks, rather more taxing than I thought they would have been. The last week of term is always burdensome, but in addition I took part in an activity which required my whole self to be invested. And so, looking back this morning on the last weeks, I feel tired and in need of rediscovering the lifeline with God, the still point of my soul.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

God of Renewal: The Pope's Conversion

by Morris West

General confusion exploded in the Catholic blogosphere at Pope Benedict's comments which might be summarised as "It is better for a male prostitute to use condoms". Some saw it as a kind of conversion towards a more humane way at looking at morality, while others felt it was a continuation of the moral reasoning always evident in Ratzinger. Some felt betrayed and disappointed by the man they proudly monikered "the Church's Rottweiler". Has our pope gone soft?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Where the hell is God?

In the three weeks or so since a Magnitude 9 earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami that has claimed at least 12,000 lives, heart-rending images of suffering, depression and even some stoicism and heroism have been broadcast to our televisions, newspapers and computer screens. In the face of natural disasters, the religious believer has to confront her beliefs. Where is God in all this? How can a loving God permit such tragedy? In fact, the believer confronts the question far more often than our media. When a parent dies of cancer, when a child's life is cut tragically short, when a brother or sister dies or is seriously injured in a meaningless accident – the believer asks, “Where the hell is God?”