Showing posts from October, 2007

A nun after my own heart...

"Her cell phone has a custom ring tone. She frequents the Internet's most popular social networking sites. She gets jittery when she can't check her e-mail or post on her blog. She communicates with her family mostly by AOL instant messenger. And she's a 50-year-old nun. Sister Anne Flanagan has been a Daughter of St. Paul for almost 30 years, and lives with five other nuns in a convent upstairs from a Catholic bookstore near Chicago's Magnificent Mile. She teaches Bible study classes, edits Catholic books and magazines and roams the Internet looking for cool technology, although, she wryly notes, "a vow of poverty tends to limit one's access...."For the rest of the article, see here.

Cardinal encourages young members of religious orders to blog!

Fr. Ray Blake over at St. Mary Magdalen, Brighton has posted the following article from the Catholic news agency.

ROME, OCT. 28, 2007 ( Benedict XVI's vicar for the Diocese of Rome expressed his hopes that religious men and women increase their use of information technology, and thus take advantage of what he called a new form of apostolate.

Cardianl Camillo Ruini spoke to the religious at the Pontifical Urbanian University during the diocesan gathering of the Union of Major Superiors of Italy, which represents 1,287 communities and 22,000 religious in Rome.

According to the Roman diocesan weekly RomaSette, Cardinal Ruini said: "A priest from Novara told me that the theme of 'Jesus' is very much discussed by youth in blogs. The focus, though, comes from destructive books that are widespread today, and not from Benedict XVI’s book ‘Jesus of Nazareth.'

"What will the idea of Christ be in 10 years if these ideas triumph?"

The true Jesus


"The Theology of Yes"

Padre Pio - can a fake still lead so many people to God?

This article in The Times investigates whether or not Padre Pio was a fake in the light of recent "revelations".

Can a fake still lead so many people towards a closer relationship with God? My mother has had a quiet but strong and devout devotion to Padre Pio for all her adult life (now 79) without ever having met him and I would consider her a true living saint (though I am probably biased).

Judge people on their fruits. I think Medjugorje should be thought of similarly. Can fake visionaries (who must therefore be "in it" just for self-agrandisement) really be such catalysts for the return to faith and inner healing of so many people?

I agree with John, one of the comment posters on the web site. There must be "something going on there that involved God".

"Once" - Irish film

Saw last night a wonderful little gem of an Irish film, "Once". I'd been dying to see it since I first heard about the rapturous reception it has received in the States and then saw the trailer. It won the World Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival in the US. Steven Spielberg says it gave him "enough inspiration to last a year".

It's an unpretentious, low budget, lo-fi Irish musical romance about 2 broken-hearted musicians in Dublin (1 man + 1 woman) who help each other rediscover he is played by Glen Hansard (guitarist Outspan in "The Commitments"), lead singer-songwriter of The Frames (Irish band + bezzie mates with our Gemma - Gemma Hayes, that is - ... her guitarist + bass guitarist are ex-members of The Frames). The young woman in the film is also a real-life musician (Czech singer-songwriter- pianist).

Obviously, if the style of music is not your cup of tea (plaintive, broken-hearted rock ballads that move from touching int…

Web site update + software info

Oh the relief...!! (or "Ouf!! as they say in France). I've been spending a fair bit of time these last few days updating my web site with some new material (much of which appeared first here on the blog) and also making the transfer from iWeb 1 to iWeb 2 (= the software that comes with Apple's iLife suite. They've just released an upgrade - see here). A few teething problems in the transfer led me to panic a bit (pages not appearing correctly formatted in the browser)... but all is now well, as much through trial and error as with judgement!

On the software front, I've started using a browser called Flock which is tailor-made for those who have Facebook, YouTube and Blogger accounts, and many more... It's based on the Firefox code, I think, but goes much further in terms of Web 2.0 integration. Certainly one to have a look at.

And of course, how could I leave out the launch of Apple OSX Leopard, their upgraded operating system which just knocks the spots (sorry!…

Fr. Bob + Fr. Jimmie... 2 priceless characters

Thanks to Damian Thompson at Holy Smoke for the link to this YouTube video where an Australian journalist "tries out" Catholicism, following a 73-year old Aussie priest around as he goes about his business.

What a cantankerous, totally un-PC guy Fr. Bob is. He is just SO funny. But beneath the bluster is someone who has devoted his life to the downtrodden, especially children, as you can see on his website.

Reminds me of an Irish priest, Fr. Jimmie, who was my first spiritual director. I was over in Ireland visiting relatives during the late-1980s whilst a Uni. student in Liverpool and postulant for my order, the De La Mennais Brothers. I met up with Jimmie (he was visiting relatives too) and we drove up north where he had other relatives. We approached a border checkpoint along a quiet country lane... I'll never forget it. A couple of hundred yards from the checkpoint he stopped the car and proceeded to stick two fingers up at the security camera pointing down at us from…

Vocations meeting - Castelgondolfo pt.3

Some more photos from our time in Rome.

I got fortunate with the light coming through the stained glass for this shot in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

Mass in St. John Lateran.

Myself and Bro. Samson at a crowded Trevi Fountain.

At the heart of it all... St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican.

The stunning cupola of St. Peter's.

An awe-inspiring church and monument to our history, but churches such as St. Peter's and Notre Dame Cathedral in Rome have become for many people just a box to tick on their way around the most popular tourist sites in the world. I would dearly love to go into St. Peter's when it is empty, just to pray, or at least attend a Mass during which tourists are not allowed to circulate. The latter does happen to a certain degree in Notre Dame. Maybe too in St. Peter's. But during a too rapid one-day tour around Rome, my visit to St. Peter's felt strangely hollow (it doesn't help that I really do not like crowds!).

However, our trips to the church…

Laughing with the saints

I like this guy's style! Love the St. Teresa of Avila quotes :-).

Embedded VideoBlogged with Flock

Coping with suffering

There are times in all of our lives when things seem to be going just swimmingly, and there are others when you feel that things just can't get worse. You feel pummeled, punch drunk, staggering from one day to the next just praying that you can get through it without breaking down. Events conspire to leave you stressed, angry, upset... perhaps even more so when the source of these feelings comes from things that have happened to others that you love dearly. Your compassion for their suffering risks turning into something darker, angry, something that eats you up from within.

Well, myself and members of my family have been through, and are still going through this type of experience. The tragedy of my 24 year-old nephew's suicide last Feb. has its source in other hidden tragedies that go back nearly 60 years, many of which have only come to light in the last few years. This purging of darkness that so many of us in my family have been carrying deep in our hearts has been incredi…

The Pope in Scotland + a Royal rumble :-)

I think it's quite clear just who the guilty party is here!


Thought this was appropriate given today's final in Paris.... :-)

The Pope in Scotland

On a tour of Scotland, the Pope took a couple of days off his itinerary
to visit the north coast near Aberdeen on an impromptu sightseeing trip.

His 4X4 Popemobile was driving along the golden sands when there was an
enormous commotion heard just off the headland. They rushed to see what
it was and upon approaching the scene the Pope noticed just outside the
surf, a hapless man wearing an English Rugby jersey, struggling
frantically to free himself from the jaws of a twenty foot shark.

At that moment a speedboat containing three men wearing Scottish rugby
tops roared into view from around the point. Spontaneously, one of the
men took aim and fired a harpoon into the shark's ribs, immobilizing it

The other two reached out and pulled the Englishman from the water and
then, using long clubs, beat the shark to dea…

Vocations meeting - Castelgondolfo pt.2

Some more photos...

We had one day off during the week of meetings to be shown around Rome by members of our General Council. It was my first time to this great city, as it was for a good number of our Vocations Directors. We therefore left early (7.30am) to get the 40 mins. suburban train from Castelgondolfo into Rome, with many of us staying over 10 hours before finally returning.

Of course, 1 day would never be enough to see all there is to see, but we did manage to get around quite a few of the major landmarks: the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran, the church of St. Ignatius Loyola, the Forum, the Colliseum (walked by it), St. Peter's Basilica (ie. the Vatican, but not its museum), the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps.... It was a bit in the style of that old Monty Python sketch with the tour guide taking US tourists on a whistle-stop tour of Europe, but nonetheless worthwhile. And we had a good laugh amongst us Brothers.

Bro. Guy Roddy (USA) near the Colliseum…

Vocations meeting - Castelgondolfo, nr. Rome, Aug. 5th-12th: part 1

When I got back from Togo on July 31st I had just a few days to recover and get my digestive system back into order before flying to Rome for a week long conference at our community house in Castelgondolfo, a picturesque small town on a hill about 10 miles outside Rome. The Pope traditionally goes to the Papal Palace at Castelgondolfo each summer for a few weeks break. Pope Benedict happened to be there during our conference. But more about that later.

The conference itself was organised to give Brothers responsible for co-ordinating vocations work (or Vocations Directors) around the world the chance to share experiences and plan strategies for the future. There were 16 of us at the conference together with the members of our General Council, ie. our 4 head Brothers based in Rome (= the Superior General and 3 Assistant Generals).

Our Superior General, Brother Yannick Houssay (France), outside the Papal residence at Castelgondolfo. He was able to use his influence (= a friend of the Chie…

Film Reviews

Here are some brief reviews of some of the films I've seen in the last 9 months or so:

"Hot Fuzz" (5 out of 5)

Great fun, wonderful parody elements, endearing performances. Love the set up of sleepy English village crossed with Bad Boys-style buddy movie clichés. Pegg + Frost are an immensely watchable double act.

"Sunshine" (5 out of 5)

Have now seen it 3 times... Thoughtful, visually spectacular, intelligent sci-fi for those who want more than just macho heroism and aliens being blasted to bits. There is a very interesting subtext relating to what a person would do if you encountered close up the source of all life in our solar system (literal - the Sun), source of all life (metaphorically - God/Creator). What would it do to your mind? Danny Boyle (director) = catholic. Alex Garland (screenwriter) = atheist. They make a good double act.

"Into Great Silence" (5 out of 5)

A beautiful invitation to spend just under 3 hours in contemplation.... not of the liv…

Togo 07 - some extra photos by Paul H.

Andy R. showing off his fine teeth.

Josh B. stuck in an automatic barrier. Tom B. + Bro. Francis not too bothered.

Action shot with a Paris metro train in the background.

An apatam at Aného = central covered meeting place found in villages, schools, etc... where people come to chat, gossip, "hang out"


.... and after their clash of heads playing football!

Paul + friends

Megan + friends

Last days: Day 22 - Mon 30th + Day 23 - Tues. 31st

We were now in the home stretch... an overnight flight from Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) late Monday night took us back to Paris for a last day of sight-seeing around that most elegant of cities. The flight wasn't really long-enough to get a solid night's sleep, presuming that you were actually able to sleep in the first place.

It was an indication of the character of our group's members that they were still "up" for a day round Paris after a short night and 3 weeks of adventure, tummy upsets, etc... But, we couldn't push them too far physically and so had to make good use of public transport. In the end, a visit to the outside of the Louvre and its pyramid, a walk along to the Place de la Concorde through the Tuileries gardens and a metro trip to La Defence (the modern Arc de Triomphe) suffised.

The Louvre and its pyramid

The Brothers of our community at 9 rue du Commandeur (where I lived as a student for 4 years in the late 1990s) generously allowed us to leave …