Books that deserve a standing ovation pt1

I’m always looking for the best book for me to read next, so I thought I’d “do unto others” and share my top book recommendations. I figured the best way to distinguish the cream of the crop, is the standard of giving a standing ovation (if the book were a play…) I’ve made a rough list of about 17 so far, but I’ll share them bit by bit, in no particular order.

Ilia Delio, Making All Things Whole: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness

This is a genuinely extraordinary book… It has transformed my ideas of Catholicism and the whole universe. I wish that I could explain it, but it’s just too much. It touches on some crazy ideas from science, and I guess is perhaps the beginning of a new Christian Cosmology, that’s been largely lacking ever since Galileo and Newton destroyed the mediaeval Cosmology. But it’s more than that… It’s a renewed Christological Cosmology and a Cosmological Christology.

Bonaventure – The Major Life of St Francis

Nothing has made the gospel seem so clear to me as the life of St Francis, and this book especially. Bonaventure uses Francis’ life to teach us the ways and power of true holiness and virtue, and shows us St Francis in his uncompromised madness. St Francis is fairly called a “second Christ”.

St Therese of Lisieux – The Story of a Soul

This is possibly my favourite book of all. St Therese’s life is, on the face of it, very boring. In terms of events, there’s very little of significance. But what it has, is an extraordinary relationship of total surrender to God’s merciful love. This book teaches the true way of salvation, not by our own strength, but entirely by God’s merciful love.

And once you’ve read this, read My Sister Saint Therese, by the saint’s sister Celine. It’s a collection of recollections, that show Therese from another angle, from someone so close to her.

Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read any of these, and or any books that you’d give a standing ovation.

God bless!

I’m writing a book!

For a while now, I’ve been slowly working on a book of Philosophy/Theology. It began as just one or two philosophical thoughts, but as I wrote them down, I found myself stumbling into other thoughts, including some very theological ones. I don’t really know where it is heading, because every time I revisit it, it seems to lead me in some new direction.

I don’t want to give any details away just yet, firstly because the paint’s still wet, and secondly because I think these thoughts need their proper space. So please forgive me for being vague. I believe these ideas are powerful, and I need to handle them carefully.

I will say that I’m very excited by them. They’ve changed my understanding of basically everything. They’re not particularly similar to anything I’ve written on this blog so far, probably because they can’t easily be slipped in, one at a time. Also, they’re just not ready.

Please say a prayer for me and my book. That I’ll write in humility and truth. That I’ll actually write it, and not get scared and bury it in the ground like the wicked and lazy slave in the parable of the talents. That whatever is true in it thrive, and whatever is false in it wither.

Thanks, and God bless you!

Love your own cross

It’s easy to love other people’s crosses. I think especially about the heroic crosses borne by the martyr’s and saints through the ages, for the glory of God.

Today I was buried with assignments rapidly approaching, that I’m far behind on, so that these really must come before almost anything else. I’m not even able to spend long writing this post, because I need to catch up on sleep, so I can wake up and work some more. It’s painful.

I thought at one point, “Ah! If only I could be living and suffering for Christ’s service, rather than trapped in this work.” And then I saw once more, that this is my cross, this is my way to love and serve God. If I won’t accept this, there’s no way I’d ever accept the greater sufferings and service of the saints. This is how I’m meant to love God right now. This is my gift. This is my prayer.


Please pray for me. God bless you!

I showed Jesus my wounds

At yesterday’s Good Friday liturgy, I rolled up my sleeves for the first time this year. So what? Well, my left forearm has some scars on it, and in these scars, open wounds on my mind and soul are visible.

In rolling up my sleeves, I wasn’t just responding to the beautiful weather; I was bringing my wounds, and so myself, before Jesus crucified. He is wounded to enter my wounds, He died to enter my death. He is naked before us: how could I hide myself from Him?

We have to let Jesus enter into us, through our wounds, our sins and our death. How? Through faith in Him and through His holy sacraments. In these, Jesus comes to us in our sins, our struggles, and our suffering, and brings us His life that conquers death.

When we give these up to Him, and let Him enter into them, something mysterious occurs. As He touches them with His mercy, He fills and transforms them with His self-sacrificial love, and in doing so, we find them united to His Holy Cross. Our wounds are united to His.

And His wounds have been glorified by His resurrection from the dead.


God bless you, and Happy Easter!
He is risen!


I love the San Damiano cross. Jesus’ arms are open wide in a priestly gesture, of offering, gift, and welcome. The Cross is an act of love and freedom.

Me and the Cross

I don’t really talk much about my own life here, and certainly not about my mental health. Suffice to say for now, that it feels like its falling apart; like everything I have relied on and hoped for is being lost before my eyes.

And it serves me right. Why? Because I literally asked for it. It was for a long time my prayer, and still is, that God humble me completely. I guess I just didn’t see it looking like this…

As my “everything” seemingly falls apart (I suspect and hope the situation in many ways isn’t as bad as it sometimes feels), I see that I’ve been trusting and hoping in things that aren’t God. And that’s the way to certain disappointment. Yes, I was hoping in God too, but not in God alone.

When I reached my recent lowest, I felt and believed that all that I have and I am is nothing, that all that I have and I am is completely worthless and useless. What could anyone possibly want with me? What could God ever do with this?

But this is pride. To suppose that my weakness– my nothingness– limits God in any way, is madness.

‘Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.’
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

I look to the cross, and I see that God isn’t victorious by strength, but by faith and obedience. It is in Christ crucified, and in Him alone, that I am to place my trust. It is by dying to self, living in reckless sacrificial love, in union with His holy cross, that I am to live and serve God.

‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.’
Philippians 3:10-11

So here’s me. However much or little (or nothing) I am, I am God’s, and that is all I need. I’m not called to be strong or talented or valuable, but merely faithful; the victory is His concern, not mine: how could I ever achieve resurrection?

I just hope and pray God lets me remember and accept this when I really need to.

God bless you

P.S. I feel I should also mention, that a part of this feeling of losing everything was the loss of my supposed righteousness when I fell to a certain sin. Thank God I lost this illusory righteousness. I am a sinner, and my only justification is God’s love for me.

I have no righteousness, but I share in Jesus’ own. I have no life in me, except His.

God bless you again

Thoughts from hospital

I’m in hospital this morning (kept overnight), to get stitches on my arm for a cut I made a week ago (self-harm). Please pray for me. Now here are some thoughts.

I’m finding hospital crazy peaceful. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the simplicity, the solitude, the lack of control, or the simple care. Or better yet, the knowledge that this place, this time, is genuinely good for me, bringing me healing. I’m so grateful for and to the NHS.

I think I’m in the hospital today, for a similar reason to why I’m in the Church: because I can’t help myself. I could maybe learn to get by with effort, maybe even living healthily by external standards, but to really live, and live truly, I need real help. I’m not here because I deserve it (I don’t), but because I need to be.

[Thoughts from the second morning (third day)]

The stitches went well. I was put under general anaesthetic because it was multiple layers. Please keep me in your prayers.
The NHS is just absolutely brilliant. The care I’ve been given is simply wonderful. Before this, I knew it was good in theory, and knew it had done me good before, but I didn’t realise how good, how absolutely indispensable it is. From now on, the NHS will be central to my political persuasion.

The love and care of my family and friends has been invaluable also. Love changes everything. By their love, I’m not alone.
The night I cut myself (I did it in the evening), I asked the Lord to speak to me through his scriptures, and turned to John chapter 11, where I found Jesus say (v4), ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God; that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’ I don’t know how he wants to do that, but if he can do it for a dead man, why not me?

Weakness seems to me essential to Christianity. Not just at the start, but the whole way. We need a saviour. I need a saviour who isn’t just against my weakness, my brokenness, my death, but who enters into it. This is the salvation I need.

If we consider we are just saved from sin, then we are stamped “saved”, I think we’ll find big trouble. Jesus came to save sinners, not to stop our sin, then declare us saved (or even both at the same moment). Of course he wants to heal us, and we must let him. As Pope Francis put it, sin is the privileged locus of our encounter with God, and God even caresses our sin.

[In the evening]

I’m going to be transferred to another hospital for a few days so they can do a mental assessment of me. Please pray for me.
Martyrdom is the opposite of suicidal tendencies, I believe. Against the choice of life for myself, taking the destructive choice of attacking that life (for myself), martyrdom offers dying to self and living for others, taking the the positive choice of giving that life for others. That’s why it’s a struggle, rather than working towards the intellectual conviction that life is “worth” living.
I wonder if it might not be “worth” it after all, from a selfish point of view. Selfishness is perhaps the problem in the first place. But martyrdom doesn’t even ask such questions, it just gives and struggles.

Honestly, the thought that I can’t kill myself, but will die many times over for love, has been a strange comfort in times of great darkness. Perhaps even the choice to not take but give my life, is a martyrdom already.

God bless you
Please, pray for me

[A couple days later]

At lunch today, I started thinking of next week this time, when I’ll be having lunch with my Church after mass. It brought me great joy.

That is the beauty of tradition: it allows our hopes and our memories to mingle. Our hopes become more certain, and our memories more fertile, more alive.

[Back home at last]

I’m glad to be back.

The mental health assessment unit was a powerful experience. Life is tough. Such bad things happen to such nice people.

It was tragic to witness (and in honesty, participate in) social outcasts rejecting someone they consider worse than them. I could make excuses, but the simple fact is I was partly selfish, and the other part a coward, because I could have tried, or at least sat out. I didn’t love my neighbour as myself; I didn’t do what Jesus would do; I didn’t see Jesus in the needy. What I didn’t do there, I didn’t do to Jesus.

But it was also beautiful, how accepting, nonjudgmental, and caring other patients were. I think I appreciate better Jesus’ focus on the poor. I also understand better Bl. Mother Teresa’s words,

‘Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.’

To be miserable or keep to myself would be easy and safe, but to give a simple smile or nice word is tough but important. It made a world of difference to me, and I guess I must assume mine helped others also.

Oh, they recommended me counselling and arranged a follow-up visit to check on me, and said they didn’t think medication would be best for me.

Please pray for me.

Oh! I also missed the Sunday obligation as a result (I asked twice, and wasn’t allowed out). I wouldn’t have thought this a big deal, but when I got out, I saw that Pope Francis tweeted,

On the one day I didn’t! It’s not just that I didn’t go, but I now see I didn’t try hard enough. I considered asking for an extraordinary minister or priest to visit me, but didn’t bother, thinking that I wasn’t even sure I should receive the Eucharist. But I didn’t bother to check myself to see if I actually shouldn’t. And I didn’t make much of a fuss at all.

Please pray for me

Reading to Jesus

Today I did a reading in front of three thousand people, as part of my University’s carol service. I was a bit more than understandably nervous. It’s the very opposite of my comfort zone (my discomfort zone?).


(It was much darker, and much, much more full)

As I sat nervously before it started, the salvation army band playing, I took the opportunity to silently pray, offering the whole thing to God. I asked that it may be for us an encounter with Jesus. Then it struck me (he struck me) that I should read for Jesus himself! That he was with us (in our midst, but particularly at the very back of the Cathedral) listening. I was to read not as history, not as duty, not as story, but as speaking to my Love about my Love. And loving the three thousand overhearers because my Love lives them.

So I went up, silently offered it to God, and read. I was terrified. I spoke loudly, but I feel my heartbeat was still louder than my voice. I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but my leg began shaking a couple times. I shifted my weight slightly to stop it, and the other leg would start. But I read, and read with love, and I’m told I did well.

The Carol Service was absolutely beautiful. At many times I had to remember there were angels singing with us, in order to explain the beauty (always listen for the angels).

Happily I found afterwards, that my reading was in fact today’s Gospel reading for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. God is good.


God bless Us, Every One!