Francis Phillips

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April 24, 2020
Having discovered it in a pile of books I have been reorganising, I have been dipping into Ronald Knox’s A Spiritual Aeneid (1918), the account of his spiritual journey from High Anglicanism to Catholicism. He converted in 1917, influenced both by Robert Hugh Benson, himself a convert and the son of an archbishop of Canterbury,
April 21, 2020
Catholics have accepted with resignation that their churches are shut for the duration of the lockdown. (As I write this I am aware that my own village Catholic church has such a small congregation on Sundays that we could all still attend Mass and keep the regulation distance from others by having a pew to
April 17, 2020
I have been reading Confessions of the Antichrist by Addison Hodges Hart (Angelico Press) these last few days. It’s true that in my last book blog I stated that I wasn’t reading novels – and this is undoubtedly a novel. But I suppose in a time like this, when normal life is suspended and people’s
April 15, 2020
It has been interesting to note what other people are reading during the lockdown. One friend, facing with an unusual amount of leisure, is tackling Vasily Grossman’s long novel, Life and Fate; another has turned, inexplicably in my view, to Arnold Bennett. Others are taking refuge in escapist literature, such as Tolkien’s epic or Wodehouse’s
April 15, 2020
When I was a child, we had a quaint kind of formula we would sometimes use in the playground to support what we were stating: we would say “Cross my heart and I hope to die”. We didn’t have the faintest idea of the literal gravity of these words, only that they sounded suitably solemn.
April 06, 2020
Those who love the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen and who hope to see him canonised one day will easily recognise him in the affectionate portrait of him drawn by his niece. My Uncle Fulton Sheen by Joan Sheen Cunningham (Gracewing £12.99) describes how, as a ten-year-old girl from the family of Sheen’s second brother, she
April 06, 2020
I have been trying to read a chapter of the Gospels daily during Lent. My copy is the Navarre Bible, published by Four Courts Press. Recently I was struck by the commentary concerning Mark 15:39, concerning the conversion of the Roman centurion who witnessed Christ’s death on Calvary. The commentary says, “Regarding this passage St
March 30, 2020
I happen to be writing this on a Friday evening: for Jews, it is “Erev Yom Shi Shi, “the night before Shabbat”. I happen to know this because many years ago, before university, I worked on a kibbutz which, although secular, held fast to its ancient Friday night rituals. This memory occurs to me because
March 27, 2020
Recently I got drawn into a Facebook discussion about how downtrodden women have been throughout the ages – always at the hands of the “male patriarchy”. There was much feminist fervour of a knee-jerk kind. When I mentioned that the Jews of the Old Testament, the original “patriarchs”, also included strong women throughout their history,
March 24, 2020
I have just been reading the Telegraph obituary of Dorothy Maclean, co-founder of the New Age Findhorn Community. I suspect that the obituarist who wrote it took a scarcely concealed ironic pleasure in his task. Maclean, who has died aged 100, joined forces with a couple called Eileen and Peter Caddy and moved to Findhorn
March 23, 2020
In a time of enforced home isolation, we people of faith have the opportunity to think, to ponder, to pray and to explore more seriously what really matters to us in life
March 10, 2020
Ignatius Press has sent me From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the Crisis of the Catholic Church, written in collaboration by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Robert, Cardinal Sarah. There has been some controversy over the nature of the joint authorship of this book. Reading it, what comes across is the close
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