• Church Life

    The Rituals of Death

    One of the things the Church does well are those rituals which surround death and the remembrance of it. Death is something which is present for every one of us, no matter how well we try to avoid it; it is the inescapable final episode of life. And at that moment, the Church can offer something deeply important not only for the dying person, but also for those close to them. In the Church calendar, November is set aside as the ‘month of the Holy Souls’ – these being the dead, whose eternal fate we can never be certain of and whom we hope are at least enduring the purification…

  • Church Life,  Faith and Life,  Opinion

    Empty Chairs

    I’ve noticed that whenever there is a specifically religious event taking place, there seems to be something of a sense of unadulterated joy expressed, proclaiming that the faith is being lived out fully in whichever place that event has been held. I saw something of this sort on two occasions in recent memory – the first was the visit to Carfin of the relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux a couple of years ago; and most recently, the visit of the relics of Saint Bernadette Soubirous. Each visit was accompanied by the public declaration that “the faith is alive and well” – this, based on the numbers of people visiting…