In 1851 an Englishman by the name of John Henry Newman founded the Catholic University in Dublin, the precursor of today’s University College Dublin. Last month, he was canonised by Pope Francis along with four others at a ceremony in Rome. A Catholic convert from Anglicanism, Newman was a strong promoter of education and wrote an influential work called “The Idea Of A University”. When he was alive, he was recognised as a Cardinal. Now he’s also a Saint.
In his own time it was suggested that he led a saintly life, but he was quick to downplay the connection: “I have nothing of the saint about me as everyone knows and it is a severe and salutary mortification to be thought next door to one.”
Now that Rome has disagreed with the man himself, it raises the question: what is it that makes someone a saint?
Continue reading Who Could Ever Be A Saint?
When my days here on Earth have come to an end
I want to go out like an Autumn leaf
Not like a flower, that gradually drops
Not like a tree, that inwardly rots
I want to go brighter than ever
As weakness takes hold, let glory shine through
And when strength finally fails, and falls to the ground
Let it fall on the promise of Spring
I’ve said it many times, as an automatic reflex. Just like “bless you” after a sneeze or “you’re welcome” after a “thank you”, the phrase “great minds think alike” rolls off the tongue naturally whenever two people have a similar idea. It’s a friendly way of complimenting others and ourselves simultaneously, a verbal pat on the back for being mutually great. It’s a bit of fun. But that doesn’t make it true.
Continue reading Do Great Minds Really Think Alike?
A good friend of mine got an award in recognition of his work with a charity that teaches job skills to men in Birmingham, Alabama. He has been their scissors, cutting them through all the red tape required to actually be able to support people. As a lawyer, he has the skill set needed for the job. As a Christian, he has a driving motivation to give himself for the sake of others, just as God has given to him. Still, he was modest:
“A lot of people could have done it.”
Which is true, I’m sure. The thing is, they didn’t. The charity didn’t need people who could do the job. They needed someone who would do it. My friend was (and is) that person, and I say the world needs a lot more like him. And it doesn’t always have to be complicated or specialised. Often the most helpful acts of support and kindness are also some of the most mundane – the kinds of things almost anyone could do.
Continue reading The Importance Of Doing What Anyone Could Do
I could see their faces, right there in the pile of rubbish at the dump. They were looking through the window of the broken playhouse, smiling pure joy at me – the joy of a child with a small space to go in and a world to look out at. I hadn’t expected them here, though. I was just doing a bit of spring cleaning, not ghost hunting. But even with rubbish all around it, that window was the frame of priceless memories painted in such vivid colour I could hear them laughing and calling “Daddy! Look at me!” through every one of its faded cracks.
Continue reading Ghosts In The Rubbish
Language is a flowing river, and our individual words are carried along in the current. Some meanings float along the surface, slowly morphing with time, while others remain lodged in the riverbed, unchanging for generations. Sometimes, though, a word that had been static for centuries suddenly breaks free and rushes to the top, changing more in a month than it did in the previous millennium. So it is with the word “influencer”.
Continue reading You Can Influence People More Than This Blog Post Can
I was on the train home after a long day’s work in the city. I settled into the seat and pulled out my phone instinctively, as if to check the headlines or dip my toes in the constant stream of social media, but when I saw the screen wake up, something in my mind woke with it and said, “Don’t you see the window?”
Continue reading The Girl On The Roof