Our struggle for proper celebration

We don’t know how to celebrate things as they’re meant to be celebrated. We want to, but mostly we don’t know how. Generally we celebrate badly. How do we normally celebrate? By overdoing things; by taking a lot of the things we ordinarily do, drinking, eating, talking, singing, and humouring, and bringing them to excess.…

Hard lessons from painful failures

What’s to be learned through failure, through being humbled by our own faults? Generally that’s the only way we grow. In being humbled by our own inadequacies we learn those lessons in life that we are deaf to when we are strutting in confidence and pride. There are secrets, says John Updike, which are hidden…

Unfinished relationships…

A colleague of mine, a clinical therapist, shares this story: a woman came to him in considerable distress. Her husband had recently died of a heart attack. His death had been sudden and at a most inept time. They’d been happily married for 30 years and, during all those years, had never had a major crisis…

Struggling inside our own skin

I’ve been both blessed and cursed by a congenital restlessness that hasn’t always made my life easy. I remember as a young boy restlessly wandering the house, the yard, and then the open pastures of my family’s farm on the prairies. Our family was close, my life was protected and secure and I was raised…

An honourable defeat

In 1970, the famed British writer Iris Murdoch wrote a novel entitled A Fairly Honorable Defeat. The story had numerous characters, both good and bad, but ultimately took its title from the travails of one character, Tallis Browne, who represents all that is decent, altruistic and moral among the various characters. Despite being betrayed by…

Celibacy – a personal apologia

As a vowed, religious celibate I’m very conscious that today celibacy, whether lived out in a religious commitment or in other circumstances, is suspect, under siege, and is offering too little by way of a helpful apologia to its critics. Do I believe in the value of consecrated celibacy? The only real answer I can…

Ecumenism – the path forward

I was very blessed during my theological formation to have had the privilege of taking classes from two very renowned Catholic scholars, Avery Dulles and Raymond E. Brown. The former was an ecclesiologist whose books often became textbooks which were prescribed reading in seminaries and theology schools. The latter was a Scripture scholar whose scholarship stands…

Spirituality & spiritualities

What is spirituality and what makes for different spiritualities? The word spirituality is relatively new within the English-speaking world, at least in terms of how it is being used today. Prior to the 1960s you would have found very few books in English with the word “spirituality” in their title, though that wasn’t true for…

Snake-bitten…

Everything is of one piece. Whenever we don’t take that seriously, we pay a price. The renowned theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasar gives an example of this. Beauty, he submits, is not some little “extra” that we can value or denigrate according to personal taste and temperament, like some luxury that we say we cannot…

Sr Wendy Beckett – RIP

No community should botch its deaths. The renowned anthropologist, Mircea Eliade, suggested this and its truth applies to communities at every level. No family should send off a member without proper reflection, ritual and blessings. On December 26, 2018, the family of art and the family of faith lost a cherished member. Sr Wendy Beckett,…