Showing posts from January, 2008

A scientific theory of everything... is it worth trying?

I wrote this on the Facebook forum of a former pupil of our school.


I think that above and beyond the question of whether or not the search for a theory of everything is realistic, a waste of time + resources, etc... is the idea (which I subscribe to) that it is simply an innate aspect of the human psyche to seek transcendence. This can be expressed in the desire to push back limits, to go beyond what one thought was possible, whether the limits be physical (ie. extreme challenges such as marathons, long-distance cycles, journeys to the South Pole...), scientific (space exploration, a theory for everything...), spiritual (seeking knowledge/proof of God's existence...). All of this I feel is a metaphor, founded in experience, for the desire for union with God.

Maurice Blondel, the French philosopher speaks of the in relation to the different stage of desire, starting from the most base and finishing in the most pure (= desire for union with God) and that even the lo…

Mark Hart aka BibleGeek ( on Letting Go - the David + Goliath story.

The David + Goliath story reading came up in our weekday Mass liturgy recently. I came across an old 2003 newsletter from BibleGeek a few days later (see below). He gives an interpretation of the story that links it to the theme of abandon to God and letting go in trust that I discussed in my previous post.

Mark Hart aka BibleGeek ( on Letting Go - the David + Goliath story.

LIFE TEEN Presents

Spread the WORD

“David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone, hurled it with the sling, and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone embedded itself in his brow, and he fell prostrate on the ground.”– 1 Samuel 17:49

Are you a “control freak” like I am?

When I’m in a car, I like to be the one driving.
When I’m watching television, I like to have the remote control.
When I’m going out to eat, I like to choose the restaurant.
When I’m renting a movie, I like to have the final say.

Okay, I’ll admit it – I’m a control freak. It’s true. Enough s…

Letting go... abandon to God's will as an active undertaking

This idea of abandon to God's will as an active undertaking is a theme that I've meditated on quite a bit, especially recently: the paradox of being called to hand over everything in one's life to God, to abandon ourselves to his will and yet, at the same time, to have the dynamism, fire, energy and courage to engage in fresh undertakings, to take initiatives in his name, taking such risks in faith, banking on his Spirit to guide hearts and minds, hands and feet.

In this context I have been thinking a lot recently about St. Peter at the lakeside in Jn 21, sitting and talking with Jesus (the famous "Do you love me?" conversation). An image at the end of this dialogue never ceases to frighten and yet inspire me: when Jesus says to Peter

" 'I tell you solemnly,when you were youngyou put on your own beltand walked where you liked;but when you grow oldyou will stretch out your hands,and somebody else will put a belt round youand take you where you would rather …

New Year break - 3: Lourdes cont.

The Basilica steps and the new mosaics commissioned for the Jubilee year, illustrating the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

Lourdes parish church up the hill in the town where Bernadette was baptised.

Pictures of Bernadette and her parents. Looking at them again after many years (though I've been to Lourdes about 16 times, it's about 15 years since I visited the Boly Mill, the cachot, etc...) I was struck by the directness and strength of character shown in each of the faces. Surely not coincidental...

The Boly Mill, Bernadette's birthplace.

Bro. Henri in the one room "cachot" prison where the family lived after the mill went bankrupt.

New Year break - post no. 2: Lourdes

Whilst in our Bordères community in the Pyrénées over New Year, Bro. Henri (community Superior there) and myself took the opportunity to drive to Lourdes for the day, having lunch in our community there. We undertook the Jubilee Year pilgrimage (150 yrs. since the apparitions), following the route marked out around the town that takes you to places of importance in the life of St. Bernadette (the Boly Mill, the "cachot" ex-prison cell where her poverty-stricken family were forced to live at one point, the Grotto, of course, etc...).

One of the Jubilee pilgrimage symbols painted onto the pavements of Lourdes.

Bro. Bernard Joliveau (one of our crowd) with a nun working in the Mass office in Lourdes. Bro. Bernard spent 6 months with us in Liverpool back in the late 1980s whilst I was a University student there.

The grotto, on a cold winter's day.

The Brothers' secondary school, St. Joseph's College, in the old town near the parish church where Bernadette Soubirous was…

New Year break in our community at Bordères-Louron in the Pyrénées (France).

My good friend Bro. Henri Rivoalen invited me to take a much needed break in his community down in the south of France. This is the Brother who converted me to long-distance, fast-paced cycling (especially Pyreneen mountain cycling) and mountain hiking during my Noviciate (first year of training) in 1990. He was my group's Assistant Novice Master.

Here's a first set of photos from my 5 days there over the New Year.

Henri introduced me to the joys of cross-country skiing, ie.uphill as weel as down!.

These were taken during my second of 2 days skiing with him. As you can see, we were blessed with glorious weather, allowing us to take in the wonderful scenery.

Henri - friend + mentor

The view from Henri's community (at 845 metres altitude).

Graces bestowed this Christmas

Had one of my nicest Christmases ever this year, thanks be to God! We managed to get my father over from Ireland to spend a week (20th-27th) with me + my fellow Brothers in our community. With Mum bedridden but comfortable and well looked after in her nursing home in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Dad (83 years old), who had just spent 4 weeks in hospital himself (physio initially for his extreme difficulties walking - then treatment for severe diarrhoea that lasted 7 days, then the 'flu...) would have had to spend Christmas by himself in his bungalow, or go into Mum's home (no way he wanted that), or get farmed out to an Irish relative (like last year - not a total success). So my sister went over and flew with him (wheelchair + plane lift service in each airport courtesy of Ryanair) from Shannon to Liverpool. The night my sister spent with us here before going back to her home in Bushey, Herts. was in itself full of unexpected graces.

Dad at our Christmas dinner.

Dad seemed to rea…

Kenny Richey freed after court hearing

Death row Scot, Kenny Richey, whose case had been championed by very high-profile supporters over the past 20 years (inc. the full weight of Amnesty International) has at last been freed.

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Richey freed after court hearing
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Mark Hart aka BibleGeek (LifeTeen) on Abraham + Isaac (Genesis 22:2-4)

For a few years now I have been subscribed to the mailings of "BibleGeek" (Mark Hart) of the US (and international) youth ministry organisation LifeTeen. He often comes up with fresh invigorating takes on familiar bible passages, relating them to personal anecdotes/experiences and aspects of modern living that people can easily relate to... which is just what Jesus himself did with his parables.

I've started re-reading some of his newsletters that I've collected. I'll post a few on here as I feel they are well worth sharing.

Spread the WORD - 23/07/04

“Then God said to Abraham: ‘Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a sacrifice’. Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him his son Isaac, and
set out for the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham caught sight of the place from afar.” – Genesis 22:2-4

Have you ever felt as though “the w…