I look upon it as a great grace that in spite of my tepid life Jesus has given me an ardent desire to love Him. I long eagerly to love my Jesus passionately, with an intense ardent love such as the saints had; and yet I remain cold and indifferent with little zeal for His glory.
Fr Willie Doyle S.J. wrote these words during the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises, you can read the full diary entry if you follow this link.
Surely most of us remain ‘cold and indifferent with little zeal’ for much of the time. We talk of getting through the week on autopilot. We cannot all give up four weeks to follow the Exercises of Saint Ignatius. We hardly notice Lent is underway; indeed we go to work, cook the meals, get the children to school, change a nappy. We may be so tired, so tepid, that we cannot feel ardent as we go about our duties, but Jesus says we will be judged on what we did to the little ones, not how passionate our feelings were. Sometimes love demands above all perseverance and faithfulness in little things; sometimes getting on with undesirable or dangerous tasks, at risk of injury, infection or insult. Indeed, sometimes we need to be cold and indifferent to get on with the task in hand.
I came across Fr Doyle when reading about sacrifice in the Great War, 1914-18. Some years after this entry he volunteered as a military chaplain and won a reputation as a brave pastor to the men he served with. He would go out into No Man’s Land to bring back the wounded or give them the sacraments. He is considered a Servant of God, and his cause for canonisation has begun. The link will open within the official website of the cause.
More reflections on vocation tomorrow and the following day when we hear Mary’s ‘yes’ and follow where it led her.
This little star is hidden away in a locked cemetery chapel, all that remains of a French Jesuit community that decamped to Kent when religious persecution was raging at home. Among its members was a young Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who was to become a stretcher-bearer during the Great War.
He was attached to a North African regiment and stayed with the men, refusing promotion that would have afforded him greater personal safety. He was awarded the Legion d’Honneur as ‘an outstanding stretcher-bearer who, during four years of active service, was in every battle and engagement the regiment took part in, applying to remain in the ranks in order that he might be with the men whose dangers and hardships he constantly shared.’ The example of many priest stretcher-bearers helped bring about a reconciliation between state and Church after the war.
He wrote to his cousin Marguerite on Christmas Eve 1915, “I must tell myself, and I think I’ll come to feel it, that no Christmas night will ever have meant more to me than this one I am about to spend on the straw this evening, by the side of men.”
Far from our commercial Christmas, closer to the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
Lord, help us to see the star of wonder that will lead us through this Advent to the straw and hay of Bethlehem.
Canon Anthony Charlton’s reflections on All Souls’ Day.
This feast of the Commemoration of All Souls is not a day of grief and mourning but of hope and prayer that God will deliver all those who may still be suffering in some form and bring them to eternal happiness.
In our parish we have the so called Belvedere Chapel at Hales Place. It is the only remaining building of the large house and estate belonging to the Hales family and was converted from an 18th century’s garden building to a chapel around 1879. The whole site is now in a very sorry state. In 1880 the large house was sold to exiled Jesuits from Lyon and turned into a college. The college was popular with the French nobility who sent their sons there to learn away from political persecution in France. In 1928 the estate was sold and the house was demolished in the following years. Its chapel (originally a dovecote) and the burial ground are all that remain, located by the Tenterden Drive layby. There are twenty people buried in and around the building. Sir Edward Hales, Mary Felicity Hales and Lady Frances Hales all reburied here, along with ten Jesuit priests, two children, one lay teacher, four lay brothers and one Jesuit scholastic.
As we pray for the souls of all the departed today let us remember especially those buried around the Mortuary Chapel.
O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son,
having conquered death,
should pass over into the realm of heaven,
grant, we pray, to your departed servants that,
the mortality of this life overcome,
they may gaze eternally on you,
their Creator and Redeemer.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.
Are we being called to accompany rather than correct?
This is from a post by Eric Clayton, who was irritated by a bossy safety feature on his car. And that question and its link were to be today”s post, until the very same day I read another Jesuit writer’s wisdom, which answers the question pretty well:
We’re all members of a band, each of us with our own instrument to play. And we play best when we each add our part and don’t try to tell everyone else in the band how to play their instruments.
If we are to succeed in combatting climate change it will be by taking action based on scientific reflection. Often the research papers are inaccessible in libraries that can pay for journal subscriptions. Something is being done about that. Read on.
The Laudato Si’ Research Institute at Campion Hall, Oxford (LSRI) and Knowledge Unlatched (KU) have joined forces to make 11 titles from the field of Integral Ecology Open Access (OA) – freely accessible.
In his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of a united, global response to the current ecological crisis. Dialogue and learning on integral ecology, however, is often hindered by limited access to the academic publications on the subject, which are not affordable for many individuals and institutions in lower-income countries. The Laudato Si’ Integral Ecology Collection was developed to address this problem by making OA a selection of key texts on integral ecology. The collection will provide a valuable resource for lay readers, students, and those undertaking more advanced academic study. Publications in the collection could also be read as part of a reading group or an online course.
The titles will be made available OA to users all over the world after the official launch of the Collection on Thursday, 3 March, 2022. The books will be hosted in a special module on the Open Research Library.
“I am thrilled to be launching this pioneering OA library of books on integral ecology, which will reach people globally, whether one is a university student in the Philippines, a layperson engaged in environmental action in the UK, or a college teacher in Kenya,” said Séverine Deneulin, Director of International Development at LSRI, adding: “We hope that the Laudato Si’ Integral Ecology Collection will not only contribute to narrowing the knowledge gap between different regions of the world but also equip people globally to better respond to the cries of the earth and of the poor.”
“We are delighted to work with the LSRI team on making this collection of important content freely available thanks to the KU Reverse model,” said Philipp Hess, KU’s Manager of Publisher Relations. “We are also very grateful to the co-funding institutions that have helped to make this possible.”
St. Ignatius warns against thinking of grace as our right, rather than as a freely given gift. We shouldn’t insist on attending Mass simply because it is our right to do so. We shouldn’t go to Mass because of some attachment to routine or a sense of normality. Those motivations are self-centered, and not God-centered. Rather, we should seek to have a genuine desire to draw closer to God.
If we think that the desire to go to Mass is our own and not itself a gift, we might take this temporary distance from the Eucharist as a lesson to grow in gratitude for God’s many gifts.
Conversely, if you have grown attached to watching a streaming Mass, selecting your favorite priest, enjoying the comforts of your own home, or (God forbid!) multitasking, you should probably “act against” the preference for streaming Mass and go to receive the Eucharist in person.
For this month of March, Pope Francis asks us to pray for the Church in China.
We pray that the Church in China may persevere in its faithfulness to the Gospel and grow in unity.
Although Christianity has existed in China since the first Millennium, it was The Jesuit Matteo Ricci who most famously began missionary work in Imperial Beijing in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Other missionaries followed, including the Columbans who were among those deported by the Communist regime in 1949. They now have new links with the country which you can read about in their Far East Magazine.
Reading this poem by Saint Robert Southwell, I at once remembered my father’s rosary, with the skull below Christ’s feet. So although Southwell does not directly refer to the crucifixion, this is the image that comes to my mind. How Dad’s fingers have eroded the figure of Christ and the skull! May he pray for us still, as he prayed for his children every day. Reginald Billingsley would have been 100 years old last New Year’s Eve. A ‘hearse’ at Southwell’s time was a frame that held candles over a coffin. Robert Southwell was a Jesuit missionary to his native England, and a martyr at Tyburn, London in 1595.
Upon The Image Of Death
Before my face the picture hangs That daily should put me in mind Of those cold names and bitter pangs That shortly I am like to find; But yet, alas, full little I Do think hereon that I must die.
I often look upon a face Most ugly, grisly, bare, and thin; I often view the hollow place Where eyes and nose had sometimes been; I see the bones across that lie, Yet little think that I must die.
I read the label underneath, That telleth me whereto I must; I see the sentence eke that saith Remember, man, that thou art dust! But yet, alas, but seldom I Do think indeed that I must die.
Continually at my bed’s head A hearse doth hang, which doth me tell That I ere morning may be dead, Though now I feel myself full well ; But yet, alas, for all this, I Have little mind that I must die.
The gown which I do use to wear, The knife wherewith I cut my meat, And eke that old and ancient chair Which is my only usual seat,- All these do tell me I must die, And yet my life amend not I.
My ancestors are turned to clay, And many of my mates are gone; My youngers daily drop away, And can I think to ‘scape alone? No, no, I know that I must die, And yet my life amend not I.
Not Solomon for all his wit, Nor Samson, though he were so strong, No king nor person ever yet Could ‘scape but death laid him along; Wherefore I know that I must die, And yet my life amend not I.
Though all the East did quake to hear Of Alexander’s dreadful name, And all the West did likewise fear To hear of Julius Caesar’s fame, Yet both by death in dust now lie; Who then can ‘scape but he must die?
If none can ‘scape death’s dreadful dart, If rich and poor his beck obey, If strong, if wise, if all do smart, Then I to ‘scape shall have no way. Oh, grant me grace, O God, that I My life may mend, sith I must die.
Laetare Sunday tomorrow, so a change of gear! I thought we could use a reflection on the beauty of the world we live in and which Christ loved infinitely, and still does. And Mrs Turnstone wants to go on a wild garlic hunt today; so here goes! WT.
I doubt Gerard Manley Hopkins expected his diary to be published; his superiors had suppressed his poetry, after all. Think of that! This sentence from the diary could be laid out on the page as a poem.
End of March and beginning of April, 1871 —
One bay or hollow of Hodder Wood is curled all over with bright green garlic.
In Gerard Manley Hopkins, Selected Poems and Prose, Edited by Ruth Padel, London, Folio Society, 2012, p125.
Did the Jesuits of Stonyhurst gather the garlic for their Lenten kitchen, I wonder? Well, Let’s thank GMH and say Laudato Si’!
‘My baby’s called Aubergine’, the little girl told me. I can’t help feeling that Aubergine will stick, even though it is not the one her parents will propose at her Baptism.
Some people are insistent on getting their names spelt and pronounced correctly. I taught one boy who had a soft spot for me because I always spelt his name with a K instead of the C it has in English. I must say I hate it when my name is spelt wrong, especially when people do it in front of me, without asking.
Others just do not feel comfortable with their names. I was reading of a Spiritan Missionary who prefered to be called Shorty rather than Colman Watkins. He worked in Kenya and helped in Ethiopia when the Catholic Church there was in crisis. Peter was a nickname given to Simon by Jesus.
Another missionary who changed his name was Saint Edmund Campion. He travelled through England incognito during the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth, celebrating Mass for faithful Catholics when to do so was counted treason and liable to the death penalty.
We see him with his martyr’s palm and the rope he was hanged with, and his name in blood red mosaic tiles. Another name appears to the left: IHS – the first three letters of the Holy Name of Jesus in Greek. Biblical shorthand has a long tradition, going back to when parchment or papyrus was not cheap, and it has stayed with us.
Appropriately enough this image is in the Holy Name church in Manchester, run by the Jesuit order to which Edmund Campion belonged. Happy Feast to them!