Reflection · Uncategorized

The armchair is a wonderful place to be

The armchair is a wonderful place to be


What have we been up to?

It has been a very busy two weeks for the novitiate. As was mentioned before, Manresa House is an inter-provincial novitiate. As a result, the intake here is from four countries: Ireland, Britain, Flanders, and the Netherlands. During each of the two years, a tour is made of either the Irish Province or the Flemish and Dutch Provinces together. This year, we took the latter.  They are both beautiful countries, and it’s always good to hear the Jesuits there speak of their work.

After returning last Monday we got a day to rest and a few of us went to see the new Star Trek film, Into Darkness, on Tuesday evening. It’s a wonderful film of friendship, obedience and good vs. evil. A great review is found here on the British Jesuits online journal, “Thinking Faith”.

Writing a blog is fairly easy. You have something to share, you sit, and you write it. Do you want a challenge?  Try speaking in public. We’ve just concluded two and a half days of public speaking and presentation skills. It was facilitated by Mary P Casey, a lecturer in public speaking at St. Mary’s College, Oscott (the seminary in the Archdiocese of Birmingham). It’s always a strange experience suddenly to focus on something as ordinary as speaking. You become aware of your voice every time you speak. I’m sure some of you may have had the experience of shaking hands, an unsettled stomach and shaky legs. Public speaking can make it difficult to do something as elementary as walking.

ImageMrs. Casey gave us quite a workout. We each had practice in biblical reading, sight reading, eight-minute homilies and 90-second reflections. Certainly in our line of work, we will have more than our share of public speaking to do.

I experienced speaking as being similar to making music. It contains lots of pauses, expression, feeling, crescendos, diminuendos etc, and takes time and practice. The more you speak in public, the better you will be. Hopefully in time we will all become better presenters of the Gospel and speakers.

My reflection is that it’s easy to laugh at those who get up to sing or give a speech in public. It takes tremendous courage and skill to be able to get up in a Church, office or any public place and make a statement. It’s easy to criticise from a pew or armchair at home isn’t it? I’ve certainly done that many times in the past.  Public speaking is still one of the most common fears.  I have a new found respect for anyone who dares to do it. So, the next time you see someone speak in public, be generous!Image

Looking ahead, we will all leave on Sunday for the six-week summer experiments. For Henry, Peter and I, this will be our final experiment in the novitiate. Henry and I head off to London. He will be working with Jesuit Missions ( and I will be at St. Joseph’s Hospice ( Peter heads off to Brussels and Carlos will be at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, where Henry did his Long Experiment.

This weekend, we will also complete a follow up course to the Enneagram which we did last November, facilitated by the Assistant to the Novice Director, Gregory Brenninkmeijer, and team. I’m looking forward to this.

It’s been a lot of coming and going. As one of the first companions of St. Ignatius, Jeronimo Nadal said, “The road is our home”. We are  on the move again…



With St. Stanislaus Kostka (patron saint of Novices and Students) in Delft, Holland

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