Showing posts from November, 2019

Colin Hay - roving troubadour

I've recently rediscovered the songs/albums of the wonderful Scottish/Australian singer-songwriter, Colin Hay, former lead of Men At Work (yes, the guys who sang "Down Under", but more importantly "Overkill" - IMHO one of the greatest, most underrated 1980s songs). Once Men At Work split up in the mid-80s he became a roving troubadour, playing in pokey bars and clubs in middle America, basically starting from the bottom once again. In the early 2000s the production team and lead actor (Zach Braff) of the US comedy show Scrubs saw him playing live in LA, just him and his guitar and were spellbound. They invited him to appear in the show on a few occasions, introducing him to a whole new audience. Braff also used one of his songs at a key moment in his directorial debut film, "Garden State".

Our former students, Simon Barber and Brian O'Connor, interviewed him for their "Sodajerker On Songwriting" podcast a couple of years ago: and an excel…

Holiness - Bulletin 18/11/19

Holiness is a favourite topic of Pope Francis. In 2018, he published a document entitled “Gaudate et Exultate: Apostolic Encyclical on the call to holiness in today’s world” which builds on the Second Vatican Council document, Lumen Gentium (1964), and its “universal call to holiness”. This is not reserved for a select few. It is something that we should all aspire to, with Jesus as our model.

In “Gaudate et Exultate”, Pope Francis says:
“7. I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance, I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence.”
Being holy doesn’t mean being perfect. It means striving to live for God, taking daily steps …

Thomas Merton and a Twitter conversation

Here's a Twitter thread conversation between me and my Twitter friend "Bodmin Hermit" (@The Carceri) taking Thomas Merton as our starting point.

Bod = MERTON: No writing on the solitary, meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees... But what can the wind say where there is no hearer? That deeper silence must be heard before one can speak truly of solitude.

Me = Merton was my first encounter with spiritual writing as a teenager during a retreat at Downside Abbey: "Contemplative Prayer". I still have that copy. Later, "No Man Is An Island", "Seven Storey Mountain", which had a big impact, and others. Time to see what he says to me today.

Bod = His approach & record of his life, 7SM, and his hermit experiences are very head-on, without frills... Yet other writings & poetry, deeply mystical... Our spiritual journey with God is often about paradoxes! Dipping into this ag…

Hallelujah Here Below by Elevation Worship ("Paradoxology" version)

#HallelujahHereBelow by #ElevationWorship is currently the worship song that is most regularly nourishing my daily prayer (in its alternative version from the "Paradoxology" album).

We are an altar of broken stones But You delight in the offering You have the heavens to call Your home But You abide in the song we sing
Ten thousand angels surround Your throne To bring You praise that will never cease But hallelujah from here below Is still Your favourite melody
We sing Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah
And should the fire that once burned bright Become an ember my eyes can't see I will remember Your sacrifice I will abide in Your love for me
Oh, we sing Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah
Jesus Christ our King enthroned All the praise is Yours forevermore Hallelujah here below All the praise is Yours forevermore
Jesus Christ our King enthroned All the praise is Yours forevermore Hallelujah here below All the praise is Yours forevermore
Oh, what a wonderful day to come When every knee bows before Your na…

Give thanks for his love endures forever.


His steadfast love endures forever.


Sing to God with gratitude in your heart.


Especially when times are tough...


Athlete: "Black Swan Song" - 10 years on

10 years ago, David Pott, the father of Joel Pott (former lead-singer/songwriter of the band Athlete), found my blog article on Athlete's song "Black Swan Song" and he wrote to me offering R.E. resources relating to the song + Remembrance Day. It was released to raise money for the British Legion and was written in honour of the lead singer's grandfather, a veteran of the Battle of Arnhem. I still listen to this wonderful, moving song on a regular basis. It's become an all-time favourite of mine.

The video refers to Joel's grandfather's real-life story of surviving a near-fatal wound during the Battle of Arnhem. While lying on the ground, thinking he was going to die, he wrote a letter to his wife back home. He was eventually found, brought back to a medical facility and survived to tell the tale, as did his letter. The difference is that in the video the character representing him dies. This and the lyrics make reference to the fact that the song was wri…

Jacob Collier on creativity and discipline - Bulletin 11/11/19

The latest podcast interview on songwriting from our former pupils, Simon Barber and Brian O’Connor (“Sodajerker On Songwriting” - previously mentioned in relation to Colin Hay) is a quite wonderful episode with the prodigiously talented, young British multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer and double-Grammy winner, Jacob Collier (no. 147 - previous interviewees include Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Marr, Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach, Sting and many more).
Listen, in particular, from 15m 40s to 17m 45s where he speaks about collaboration with other musicians as follows:
“I’m going to let the thing that I thought would happen go in favour of what’s happening... collaborating, for me it’s a sort of life exercise. It’s like, how can I strip down things that I expected to happen, but maintain this point of the narrative of my piece and for this to feel like something that’s mine, without taking my hands so off the whee…

"Love alone is worth the fight"

"Love alone is worth the fight", as Switchfoot say.

via Instagram

A prayer for our pupils and young adults in our Mennaisian network


Fire and passion in our hearts, still

During today's Provincial Council meeting in Ploërmel (with Assistant General Bro. Vincent Ssekate - Uganda) we had a time of prayer before the tomb of our Founder, Fr. Jean-Marie De La Mennais. Rather chilly in the Mother House chapel, but the Spirit's fire and the passion for serving young people that filled our Founder's heart still fill ours today.

Quote of the day.


Pope Francis - St. Paul and “idol worshippers”

Here’s an excellent, sensitive, Bible-centred riposte from Pope Francis, in this week’s Catholic Herald, to those who have accused him of idol worshipping, etc... showing that St. Paul announced Christ to “idol worshippers” without attacking them.

Remembrance + Gratitude - adapted from the my school bulletin reflection for 04/11/19

Remembrance + Gratitude

We recently celebrated the Feast of All Saints (Nov. 1st) and the Commemoration of all the faithful departed (Nov. 2nd, All Souls). Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday. Let us look back with gratitude at all we have received in our lives from those who have gone before us. Let us thank God for the sacrifices made by those brave men and women who have fought to defend our country (and others). Let us also be thankful for all the experiences, the encounters, the little quiet moments that have brought us joy, the little successes, etc… that we have experienced since the start of term. And let us hand over to God the tough stuff, the challenges that we have found hard to deal with, the little failures, etc…And most importantly, let's look to the future in confidence and trust, putting ourselves in God's hands. In Him, we can do all things, or to quote the intro. to one of my favourite '80s songs by one of my all-time favourite bands, The Icicle Works (who hap…

Respectful relationships + the inviolable dignity of the human person - adapted from my school bulletin reflection for 23/09/19

Respectful relationships and the inviolable dignity of the human personI'd like to share a passage translated from a book in French by a 20th century Swiss Catholic spiritual writer and mystic, Fr. Maurice Zundel. He recounts an anecdote shared by a Russian journalist, Koriakoff, from the latter's 2nd WW experiences. It expresses most powerfully how mutual respect based on Christian values can transcend barriers of race, cultural identity, difference, etc… It reminds me of of what the 20th century Franco-Jewish philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas, said about how the inviolable diginity of the human person is communicated through the “face of the other”, in particular through eye contact. When I think I this, I always come back to the fact that in art (paintings, film/tv…) the representation of an execution will invariably involve the person being executed having their eyes covered, making it easier for the executioner to do their duty, because otherwise the visible humanity of the v…

Our Founder, guide and mentor. Fr. Jean-Marie De La Mennais

A Facebook memory from a 2006 young adult event in Ploërmel with #TeamWin. I am still at the feet of our Founder, guide and mentor. Fr. Jean-Marie De La Mennais, help us to know how to respond to the needs of young people today.

via Instagram

Thought For the Day - 05/11/19

Help me, Lord, to trust in God, to abandon myself to Him, to let go of all that binds me and closes my heart from Him. Hi/T to Terence Harrington. 
Thought for the Day Compiled by Deirdre Powell  Source: Living Faith, Daily Catholic Devotions (adapted).
A Trusted Companion. If we are fortunate, there is at least one person in our lives who knows our flaws and likes us anyway. When we are in their presence, we do not have to put on a good face when we are hurting or pretend that life is all “together”—in other words, we can relax and breathe. These people reveal the face of God to us in a tangible way, whether or not we are aware of it.
Unfortunately, there are some people with whom we are guarded—we somehow sense that it is not safe to share our wounded hearts, our doubts and our fears. We fear being judged; therefore, we remain silent in our pain.
Prayer constitutes an opportunity to reveal our true selves to God—we can approach God as a trusted companion or remain …

A Prayer of Abandonment by Blessed Charles de Foucauld

In honour of All Souls Day, a beautiful prayer by Blessed Charles de Foucauld that I rediscovered yesterday thanks to a conversation with our former parish priest in Woolton, Liverpool, Mgr. Peter Ryan, who celebrated his 90th birthday last month. We can pray it on behalf of all our deceased, that it may become their prayer:
"...Into your hands I commend my soul... with all the love in my heart, for I love you, Lord... (and) you are my Father."

National Religious Vocations Personnel Conference

Today, I attended a joyful national conference for religious order personnel responsible for vocations ministry, organised by Sr. Elaine Penrice of the National Office for Vocations and led by Teresa Carvalho, the national Home Mission Officer. She  was helped by 3 young adults who shared aspects of their own faith journeys with disarming honesty and enthusiasm. 
As always, my fellow vocations directors from other congregations are a great source of encouragement and support, but it is also excellent to hear the perspectives of young people themselves and allow ourselves to be challenged by them. All in all, a life-giving, joyful day.  #livingjoyfully #lifeinallitsfulness