Wednesday, 29 January 2014


My favourite superhero of all time is Batman. Unlike other pumped up, freakishly strong, spandex wearing heroes; Batman's heroics seemed attainable to me, a mere mortal. Plus, he had a cool car, cool gadgets and a cool costume. I wanted to be Batman.

Have you ever seen Batman and I in the same room? Didn't think so.

As kids we have those heroes or role models that we look up to and emulate. Whether they were real or fictional, we would copy their every move. Often when we grow up we can lose this sense of admiration: our heroes fall, or we grow disillusioned with their limitations (or our own limitations).

If we lose our heroes, where does our inspiration come from? Without heroes how do we develop a sense of daring? Can you gain the inspiration to challenge your limits if you don't look up to someone who is stretching their limits?

Pope Francis, the modern day hero

Heroes are necessary. In fact, heroes are crucial. When I was 16 I was a young man, fresh in my faith and trying to figure out what it meant to be a man and a Christian. Then I met someone who inspired me greatly, let's call him Stu. Stu was further along the journey, a man who had discovered his vocation and was living it faithfully. He was someone I could look up to, someone I wanted to be like when I grew up. Stu took me under his wing, mentored me and taught me how to follow God. He gave me opportunities to grow and learn. He was my mentor and hero, a sort of "Holy Batman". Seven years later I find myself in Stu's shoes. Though I'm still seeking my vocation, I'm in a position where I now walk with others as they seek God.

We need mentors and heroes if we want to figure out where God is calling us. We need older role models to show us the ropes, to share their wisdom and to give us the courage to test our boundaries. My advice to young people is think about where you want to be in the next ten years, find someone like that and follow them. For those a little bit further along the journey, make yourself available as a hero or mentor.

Heroes don't always wear costumes and masks or have super cool gadgets, but there are men and women around you right now who are writing a far more epic script than any superhero movie. Be inspired.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Social Networks

It is an incredible time to be alive for creative people. Now, unlike ever before, it is so easy to create a visual, musical or literary masterpiece and share it in the blink of an eye. Which is great for me, because while I'd like to think of myself as a creative person, I've always lacked the time (read: ambition) to pursue that creativity. I can make the most dull photo look like the most amazing photo with an instagram filter. I can write enough words to fill a book on this blog without ever having to work with a publisher. My ideas and thoughts are out there in the world and I've barely lifted my fingers off the keyboard.

The danger in turning life into a facebook profile/twitter account/youtube channel/blog account is that life can't always be filtered, posted, tweeted or described in less than 140 characters. Don't believe me? Well, check this out:

Social networks are not social workers. As much as I'd like to think I solve the world's problems with this blog, I don't have all the answers. Computers and smart phones might allow us to access all sorts of philosophies and ideas and supposed "answers", but Google should never substitute our own natural "search" engine: the soul. At all points in life faith needs to keep asking the question: where am I going and what am I doing? There isn't a blog post or instructional youtube video that can give you the answer to that question. So, pocket your phone or step away from your computer RIGHT NOW and take even just one minute to ask God: what is your will for me today?

And then you can tweet about it.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Love: The Answer or the Question?

How do we stop war? Poverty? Suffering? How do we put an end to discrimination and all forms of abuse? How do we stop people from taking their own life or the lives of others? These are significant questions; questions to which the answers would literally change the world.

Today as I was driving into work I spotted a bumper sticker which simply read: "Love is the Answer". It's a really nice sentiment, but sometimes nice sentiments aren't really reassuring when you're in the midst of trial and suffering.

And shouldn't love be more proactive? Why wait for all those forms of suffering to happen to only then begin loving? Shouldn't love be more proactive than that?

I think we tend to sugar coat love. We use images of a parent loving a child or the love between husband and wife - both of which are beautiful and true. Sometimes we talk about our love for sport or music. We don't often talk about how difficult love is. To quote Mother Teresa:
"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
Love isn't just love hearts and cuddles. The challenge for us, not just as Christians but as human beings, is to not let love simply be our response. The challenge is to let love be our initial stance. That's tough. It's hard to love that really annoying, talkative, really needy person. It's hard to love when you're hungry or tired. It's hard to love a complete stranger. But it's also hard to see people suffering because of selfishness, greed, jealousy and fear.

Love is a good answer, but it's a better question: where is the love?

Friday, 3 January 2014


Well, 2013 is now in the past and we embark upon a new twelve-month long adventure into 2014. Of course, the initial step is to form our resolution for the year ahead, which often includes: new diets, a gym membership, piano lessons, Spanish/Italian/German lessons or numerous travel magazines. In my experience, the enthusiasm of January dulls by the end of February and the next ten months are spent thinking “gee, I really should pick that up again!”

This year I have several resolutions in mind. I won’t commit them to print, otherwise you’ll hold me to them, but the general gist can be summed up in one word: significance. My resolutions revolve around recognising the significance of each moment; and making God more significant in each moment.

Looking back on 2013, I can identify numerous moments and interactions that were transformative. Often we overlook the power of a word or a gesture, or the deafening impact of a still, quiet, moment. As my life fills up with commitments to work, study and relationships, I’m finding it more difficult to plan adventures into my life. The challenge is to identify those life-changing moments as they come. It could be just stopping for a minute or two as you rush into work, just to recognise the beauty of the early morning; or it could be making the extra effort to hear the wisdom in what someone is sharing.

Those moments were transformative because there was an experience of God in the mundane, normal, everyday moments. God’s grandeur is present in all of creation; hence each moment has the potential to be faith growing. No matter which profession we find ourselves in, the challenge of being a Christian is to seek God and to share God. Through a simple word or gesture a person may have an experience of God’s love: a shared cup of coffee for someone going through a rough time can be just as impactful as the most profound and learned preacher. Every moment holds the potential to experience God in new and wonderful ways.

Of course, this mentality needs to be balanced: there’s only so much significance to be found in eating your Corn Flakes in the morning! Taking life too seriously can be a blockage to experiencing life itself. It’s only in living life that we can reflect upon God’s presence in it. This is especially relevant when discerning a vocation: it’s easy to miss God’s signs and promptings if you focus too intently on pondering God’s call.

Whatever your resolutions are for the year ahead, I pray 2014 is a blessed and prosperous year for both you and your family. May it be filled with significant moments and experiences of grace.

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a New Year, but rather that we may have a new soul.”  G.K. Chesterton