A seminarian I know recently went to a party on a Friday evening at a local university campus. The group was a crowd of young, college students and when he was introduced as a seminarian, as someone who was trying to become a priest and who had taken a vow of celibacy, the mention of celibacy evoked some giggles in the room, some banter, and a number of jokes about how much he must be missing out on in life.
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A teacher asked her class of nine-year-olds to draw a picture of the Ascension. Not surprisingly most of them did a fairly conventional portrait of Jesus rising up into the clouds. One of her students, David, who was a particularly gifted artist, had Jesus blasting off into the sky. Down the side of Jesus’ white garment was the word “Nasa”.
The Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation emphasises the need for the Church to be sensitive in the way it applies its teaching on marriage and relationships. No sooner has Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, appeared than there is an eagerness to claim that it does – or does not – involve a change in church teaching.
We’ve all had the feeling at times when in the face of a dire situation we need to do something, but there’s nothing we can do, no magic wand we can wave to make things better. But there is something we can do.
New York, 11 September 2001; Madrid, 11 March 2004; London, 7 July 2007; Mumbai, 26-29 November 2008; Nairobi, 21 September 2013; Paris, 13 November 2015 – and now Brussels, 22 March 2016. These are among the “days of infamy” when terrorists have indiscriminately slaughtered innocent civilians who were going about their daily lives.
For nearly two years, I explored the minutia of the historical data on whether Easter was myth or reality. I didn’t merely accept the New Testament at face value; I was determined only to consider facts that were well-supported historically. As my investigation unfolded, my atheism began to buckle.
The foot-washing ceremony during the Holy Thursday service will look different in some churches next week. A theologian and liturgist hopes that this change will lead to a recovery of the true meaning of the ritual. A curious link between the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Jean Vanier and Pope Francis is that each has attracted media attention – somewhat bewildered if not adverse – by their involvement in the washing of feet.
Fear is the heartbeat of the powerless. So writes Cor de Jonghe. That’s true. We can deal with most everything, except fear. The late Belgium spiritual writer, Bieke Vandekerkehove, in a very fine book, The Taste of Silence, shared very honestly about the demons that beset her as she faced a terminal illness at age nineteen. She singled out three particular demons that tormented her as she faced the prospect of death, sadness, anger, and fear.
We have to balance the need for alleged victims of sexual child abuse to be taken seriously against the need to protect those who cannot answer for themselves. ‘I don’t know if Bell was an abuser. But I am asked by Bishop Warner to take it on trust.’
As a cinemagoer, I’m being carefully targeted for conversion to a philosophy of life. If I don’t like it, that’s my problem. After all, this philosophy of life is completely self-evident to the film-makers, and assumed to be acceptable and attractive to every sane citizen. So advertising our Christian history is not intruding dangerous propaganda into a neutral and benign space. It is competing with existing propaganda, existing philosophies and ideologies. No wonder it’s a challenge for some.
Would you believe they want to make state schools even less Christian than they already are – accusing our many excellent Church schools of being ‘socially divisive’ and of promoting ‘segregation’ – and to revise the Coronation and services of remembrance to make them more inclusive?
Some years ago I was challenged by a Bishop regarding an article I’d written. We were talking in his office and the tone eventually got a little testy: “How can you write something like that?” he asked. “Because it’s true,” was my blunt reply.
They’re subject to the pull of greed, just like the rest of us. It’s only our critical vigilance that can ensure the banks never rip us off again. On Wednesday, the Bank of England threw open its doors in an unprecedented gesture of transparency. The governor of the Bank, Canadian Mark Carney, broke with centuries of well-guarded privacy and invited us commoners into the heart of the financial establishment.
What does a merciful Church look like, not just from the papal balcony overlooking the Piazza San Pietro but at the grass roots? Some answers to this question were beginning to emerge at a three-day conference at Durham University few week ago, held as the high point of this year’s celebrations of The Tablet’s 175th anniversary.
I wonder. Would the current government’s crackdown on non-violent extremism have silenced the founder of Christianity? How difficult would it be to construct a case against him in terms of the new counter-extremism strategy? Not that hard, I suspect.
Do you find yourself thrashing against the tide of human indifference and selfishness? Are you oppressed by the sense that while you care, others don’t? That, because of humankind’s callousness, civilisation and the rest of life on Earth are basically stuffed? If so, you are not alone. But neither are you right-
Jesus taught that and, I suspect, we generally don’t grasp the full range of it meaning. We tend to take Jesus’ words to mean this: What good is it if someone gains riches, fame, pleasure, and glory and then dies and goes to hell? What good is earthly glory or pleasure if we miss out on eternal life?
Last week, as though to console us for the passing of summer and to fortify us against the winter, the Church offers not one but two cheery celebrations, albeit ones that sit a little oddly in contemporary culture. On Tuesday last week, we had the feast of the three named archangels (Michael, Gabriel and Raphael) and on the Friday it was the turn of our guardian angels.
In religious studies, students can either undertake a full course or a short course. The top results for full-course entries were slightly below the overall average, with 6 per cent achieving A or A* grades. In the short course, 8 per cent of students achieved an A or A*. To give an idea of the standard required, most examination boards require 80 per cent for an A grade and 90 per cent for an A*. The short course results in particular should be a cause for celebration.