De La Mennais Brothers: Weaving A Tapestry Of Relationships Like Jesus

De La Mennais Brothers: Weaving A Tapestry Of Relationships Like Jesus

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Whiplash" + "Boyhood"

“Whiplash” is a stunning film... a gripping roller coaster ride, part Full Metal Jacket, part boxing movie, with a central relationship between student and teacher that is extreme, but also built on an authentic and believable musical foundation. The final 10 minutes contains cinema of the highest quality.

This film and “Boyhood” were my personal favourites at the Oscars, and although I did enjoy “Birdman” very much I was disappointed that neither “Whiplash” nor “Boyhood" got Best Film or Best Director. The latter film is the least showy of the 3 but also the most profound and deeply human. The Jesuit website “Thinking Faith” puts it best when it says:

"Boyhood is a triumph, a masterpiece of filmmaking. It captures the essence of the Western world at the start of this new millennium through the prism of a small, struggling Texas family. We experience with them all the bright hopes dashed, lies exposed and faith renewed...

Boyhood’s narrative focuses on a boy growing up, yes. But there is a larger story: the Western family struggling for relevance and connection in a fast-moving, secularised culture. This film is at once an entertainment spectacle but also a mirror that reflects our very broken modern lives, rather than the social media-sanitised version that we so often want to present. And for this reason, Boyhood is likely the first truly great 21st century American film."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Prof. John Lennox on Christianity

I've been using this video with my Yr. 13 students while discussing the whole question of is there life after death. I think Prof. Lennox does a wonderful job of respecting the intellectual problems that both non-Christians and Christians may have with the question of suffering and death, whilst bearing witness to his faith in God made man, Jesus, who died and rose again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A vocation prayer

Here’s a Vocation Prayer that we wrote for the “Living Joyfully” events:

Creator God,
I am unique in your eyes and you love me more than I can ever imagine. Each day as I grow and develop, help me to discover the dream that could be. Let me find the time to hear your voice in my every day life. Give me the courage and strength to make those choices that bring me closer to you, following in the footsteps of your son, Jesus.

"Living Joyfully" - a Vocations Festival @ Liverpool Met. Cathedral, Feb. 6th + 7th

Preparations in our Vocations Network North-West core group  (and larger group of interested volunteers from about 20 different congregations) are stepping up for our 2-day "Living Joyfully" vocations festival event at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

See below 2 posters for the 2 days. The Friday event is aimed at young people aged 14-18 and will provide a useful complement to G.C.S.E. and A-Level R.E. work on vocation, religious commitment, religious life and the priesthood.

Both days will be made up of workshop activities, games, live music, speakers,discussion groups, a question panel, and finish with a final liturgy. On the Saturday this will be the Saturday evening Mass (1st Mass of Sunday) celebrated by Archbishop Malcom McMahon. There will be about 50 Sisters, Brothers, religious order priests and diocesan priests present each day with displays around the Cathedral, as well as members of new ecclesial communities such as Chemin Neuf and Focolare, representing the many and varied forms of consecrated life and priesthood within the Church, all there to celebrate their vocations and share with others the JOY that comes from responding to God's call, whatever it may be. Participants, as well as casual visitors to the cathedral over the 2 days, will be able to meet and chat to these representatives.

Fr. Christopher Jamison osb, former Abbot of Worth Abbey and "star" of the BBC documentary series from 2005 "The Monastery" will be speaking on the Friday. So far we have nearly 200 young people signed up from schools around the Archdiocese for the Friday and we are hoping to have well over 300 in the end.

I will be predominantly involved in leading the Music Ministry on each day. Some of those who will be involved were playing with me this evening at the Mass of the first Redemptorist Youth Ministry evening of 2015.

I would invite anyone reading this to keep us all in your prayers, especially the young people who will be attending the events, that they may each discover the particular calling that God is offering each of them.

Here’s the poster for the Sat. 7th event:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! An astronaut's guide to optimism


An Astronaut's Guide to Optimism - my favourite astronaut helping us to finish the year by looking on the bright side and encouraging us to resolve to make things around us even brighter in 2015.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Following the call

Here’s a reflection on vocation/call by Don Schwager from his excellent collection of daily scripture reflections inspired by the readings of the Mass for that day, to be found at

Are you ready to follow the Lord Jesus wherever he may lead you? With the call the Lord gives the grace to respond and the strength to follow all the way to the end. Why does Jesus issue a challenge with the call? Jesus was utterly honest in telling people what it would cost to follow him. When a would-be disciple approached Jesus and said he was ready to follow, Jesus told him it would require sacrifice - the sacrifice of certain creaturely comforts. Jesus appealed to this man's heart and told him to detach himself from whatever might hold him back.

Spiritual detachment is a necessary step for following the Lord. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and his service. While many of us may not need to give up the comfort of our own home and bed to follow Jesus, we, nonetheless, must be willing to part with anything that might stand in the way of doing God's will. Don't let anything hold you back from following the Lord Jesus Another would-be disciple said he would follow as soon as he had buried his father. What he meant by this expression was that he felt the need to return to his home to take care of his father through old age until he died. The third had no obligation to return home, but simply wanted to go back and say good-bye. Jesus surprised these would-be disciples with the stark truth that nothing should hinder us from following the Lord.

Was Jesus being harsh and rude to his would-be followers? Not really. We are free to decide whether we will take the path which Jesus offers. But if we choose to go, then the Lord wants us to count the cost and choose for it freely. Don't miss the good path God has set for you - it will lead to joy and freedom.

What does the story of a plowman have to do with the journey? A plowman who looked back while plowing his field caused the line or furrow he cut into the soil to become crooked. One crooked line easily leads to another until the whole field is a mess. The plowman had to look straight ahead in order to keep the plow from going off course. Likewise, if we look back on what we have freely left behind to follow the Lord - whether that be some distraction, attachment, or sinful habit which leads us away from doing God's will - our path will likely diverge and we'll miss what God has for us. Will you say "yes" to the Lord's call for your life? The Gospel does not record the response from these three would-be disciples. We are only left with the question which Jesus intends for us as well. Are you ready to take the path which the Lord Jesus offers?

His grace is sufficient and his love is strong. There is nothing greater we can do with our lives than to place them at the service of the Lord and Master of the universe. We cannot outmatch God in his generosity. Jesus promises that those who are willing to part with what is most dear to them for his sake "will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life" (Matthew 19:29). The Lord Jesus offers us a kingdom of lasting peace, unending joy, surpassing love, enduring friendship, and abundant life. Is there anything holding you back from pursuing the Lord and his will for you life?

"Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess you have given me. I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace - with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more." (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556)