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Lent 2017

Week 4: Stillness exercise

I know from umpteen paperback apologetics that Spiritus in Latin and Pneuma in Greek and Ruadh in Hebrew all signify breath of some sort, the oxygenating impetus that aerates biochemical life; and I’m told too that the gender of the noun varies in the different declinative languages. That would be typical of the Holy Ghost’s habitual devilment, as is the ...

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Week 4: Gospel reading

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found ...

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Week 4: Prey

In my first year in the senior house at school, the same good-looking Jesuit priest (so recently ordained that we still sometimes addressed him as Mr.) introduced us to the Gospel of Matthew, which, he was keen to inform us, preceded that of the terser and more tormented evangelist Mark in the protocol of honour only and not in that ...

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Week 4: Pray

Do not despair, dear reader. The first definition of “priceless” in any reputable dictionary will tell you that it means “so precious its value cannot be determined”; “of immeasurable worth”; indeed, “worth a king’s ransom”. At the same time, do not presume. The further definition of “priceless” in the self-same dictionary will remind you that it can also mean “absurd, ...

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Week 3: Gospel reading

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold ...

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Week 3: Prey

The parables of the hidden treasure and of the pearl of great price in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew were chosen as the evangelical texts of proclamation by the priest who presided at my nuptial Mass in a temporary chapel (it is still there forty years later) beside the exposed playing fields of my alma mater in ...

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Week 3: Pray

I grew up in a large and lovely house at the intersection of Ailesbury and Shrewsbury Road, a mile-long boulevard of embassies and mansions (and two interesting if unsolved murders); but, since the painted number on the granite gatepost had been eroded by a hundred years of cantankerous Irish weather and the house-name in the lunette over the hall-door was ...

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Week 2: Stillness exercise

I simply cannot concentrate. But perhaps complex inattention is more fruitful (although I should not be thinking in productive terms) than a rudimentary focus. It is hard to consider infinity when we experience the good Creation only in the act of detail. In any event, private prayer is impossible at church services, mostly Masses, because I am so interested in ...

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Week 2: Gospel reading

Matthew 13 New International Version (NIV) The Parable of the Weeds Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. ...

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