L-Iklin. Ftit ħżuż storiċi u kulturali.

My first foray into the world of archaeology and history, then as a fifteen-year-old, was an interest in the heritage of my neighbourhood, then a newly set-up Local Council under the name of L-Iklin. Surely not the most advanced of pieces of research, but as far as I’m aware this material has remained the source for many school projects, and for those interested in the local area.

A few months ago, I’ve decided to do something with the material I had at home. For what it’s worth – and I think I did a decent enough job back then as a teenager – I’ve created a dedicated WordPress site (iklinmalta.wordpress.com) to share the material: generally articles that appears in local newsletters. I’m afraid that the site is in Maltese, and there are no immediate plans to translate that work.

Have fun!

“Intorno al fuoco …”

flame-2094Just a quick plug about a new blog I’ve just set up, called: Intorno al fuoco. Leggere la Parola di Dio in spirito scout.

The blog intends to be a resource for those who would like to pray using the Bible, and is especially targeted to scouts (of course, nothing stops other using it too!). Oh, and it’s in Italian. Since I’ve been asked the question, the explanation is simple, I’m quite involved pastorally with Catholic scouting in Italy, and it’s mainly aimed there.

 

Revamping the page!

I have never been great at being a regular blogger, and I’m not sure I have any plan will manage to change anytime soon. But any page needs a bit of revamp once in a while, and – after experimenting with other options too – I’ve decided to keep this wordpress.com site give it a bit of a new look.

Well, at least I have updated some of the pages and make it more useful for me and my current work. This site will continue to be useful for me as a sort of one-stop-shop where to showcase my current academic work (publications, courses, and projects), as well as some other things (experiments with podcasting, and scouting).

 

2015: A Photographic Retrospective

Lovely Malta, and great pictures from my brother!

Muddy Boots

It’s that time of year again, when everyone is looking back at the year that’s about to end, and reflecting on what has happened. For many photographers, it’s also the time to prepare a selection of favourite photos from the year and submit it to Jim Goldstein’s annual project. For myself, it’s the third time I’m doing this: you can also see my earlier selections for 2014 and 2013.

If you just want to see the photos, skip down to the bottom of this post for a gallery or you can see this selection as an album on Flickr. Otherwise, I’ll be taking on my choices one at a time, with a few brief comments on each.

First, though, I thought I’d start with an overview of the year. In terms of shooting it wasn’t great: as I write this we’re almost through the year and I’ve…

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A Year of Mercy. A sign of forgiveness.

As Pope Francis prepares to open the Porta Santa in Rome, and proclaim a year of mercy, I thought I’d finally finish off a blog post I had drafted a few months ago. In a way it’s my confession about Confession, that under related, maligned, and often malpracticed sacrament. Well, here we go …

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The sacrament of Confession (or Reconciliation) has for many Catholics gone out of the window. But I can understand that, mostly because I struggle with it myself. It’s not easy to speak out our limits, our sinfulness. Even if we concede the importance of the sacrament, we still somehow half believe that praying God for forgiveness is enough, isn’t it? So, while I never rejected it as part of the Catholic package – I am, deep down, a cradle Catholic – somehow my heart was not all there.

I must admit, that I have rediscovered it in the last few years as a priest. There is something extremely humbling for me that people trust me as a priest with their brokenness, their sinfulness, their fears. I have also experienced (occasionally very strongly) the cathartic effect of confession.

Don’t take me wrongly. I recognise the value of the regular, “routine”, confession, that reminds us of our limitations, our boring, repetitive, sinfulness, which we need to wash regularly in the love of God. But this sacrament really comes to its own when the wounds are deeper. Not necessarily because sins are graver (often they are not), but when there is human brokenness brought to the fore, questions that we carry about our faith, a struggle to accept the profound truth that God loves us, that sin in our life is hardly a blip in the eyes of God who – if anything – does wants to embrace us all the more, like a loving adult embracing a young child who has fallen and needs caring for their wounds, and reassurance.

That’s why I’m not allergic to calling the sacrament one of “Confession,” rather than insisting on speaking of “Reconciliation.” Individual confession of our sins remains a key point, because NAMING our sin, and bringing it out to the light of the sacrament, is particularly helpful, even to the human aspect of confession. The supernatural always builds on the natural!

No, the priest is not particularly interested in your sin. (And, by the way, if he is, run off as fast as you can!)  We’ve probably heard it before, and won’t shock us anyway. But it’s the wisdom of realising that the things that trouble us love to lurke in the darker nooks and cranniess of our life, and want to stay there, gnawing away. And the shadows they cast can often be as frightening as they are false.

Finally, two practical bits of advice:

Firstly, find a priest with whom you can be comfortable to be open and honest. This may mean a different thing to different people: some prefer a priest they know, one they can choose as a regular confessor and spiritual father. Some prefer an outsider, because it’s slightly embarrassing to speak out your sin.

Secondly, be prepared. NAME your sin. No need for a long list. But name what is troubling you. Naming our troubles helps to shed light on our darker corners, and let the light in.